The Cus­tomer is Al­ways Right

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

No mat­ter the size of your busi­ness, good cus­tomer ser­vice is in­te­gral to suc­cess, and needs to be at the heart of any in­dus­try model. Bad cus­tomer ser­vice can re­sult in a loss of ex­ist­ing and potential cus­tomers, and can ruin a com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion in a heart­beat.

Ev­ery­body has most likely had a mem­o­rably un­favourable cus­tomer ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence that has made them walk away from a busi­ness, caus­ing the com­pany re­spon­si­ble to lose a cus­tomer. when a cus­tomer has a ques­tion or prod­uct issue, they expect a com­pany’s cus­tomer ser­vice de­part­ment to re­solve their queries or, at the very least at­tempt to, with a gen­uine de­sire to make the cus­tomer feel sat­is­fied and happy with the ser­vice they have re­ceived.

Ac­cord­ing to Busi­ness Tech, new re­search es­ti­mates the cost of peo­ple switch­ing com­pa­nies due to poor cus­tomer ser­vice to be worth a stag­ger­ing $47 bil­lion (around R619 bil­lion) in south Africa alone. Ac­cen­ture – a lead­ing global pro­fes­sional ser­vices com­pany that pro­vides a range of strat­egy, con­sult­ing, dig­i­tal, tech­nol­ogy, and op­er­a­tions ser­vices and so­lu­tions – calls this a “switch­ing econ­omy”. It found that cus­tomers – par­tic­u­larly within the re­tail, ISP, bank­ing, and mo­bile provider in­dus­tries – are more likely to switch com­pa­nies due to poor cus­tomer ser­vice, de­spite be­ing of­fered pref­er­en­tial treat­ment or re­warded for do­ing busi­ness with them.

Ac­cen­ture re­cently sur­veyed 12,867 end­con­sumers in over 30 coun­tries, in­clud­ing South Africa, across 10 dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries. The re­search in south Africa re­vealed that a whop­ping 76% of cus­tomers switched ser­vice providers in the past year due to bad cus­tomer ser­vice, and 88% of these said that the com­pa­nies in ques­tion could have done some­thing dif­fer­ently to pre­vent this switch.

Ac­cord­ing to the same sur­vey, 92% of south African cus­tomers are in­creas­ingly frus­trated that they have to con­tact a com­pany mul­ti­ple times for the same rea­son, 91% of cus­tomers say that their frus­tra­tions come from be­ing put on hold for a long time, and 90% say they are un­sat­is­fied by hav­ing to re­peat their is­sues to mul­ti­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives without get­ting re­sults. Many of us can agree that these is­sues are to­tally re­lat­able and therein lies a prob­lem in itself: why is it that the same prob­lems aren’t get­ting dealt with ef­fi­ciently in or­der to make cus­tomers happy?

while south Africans are still rel­a­tively tra­di­tional when it comes to meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and still rely heav­ily on per­son-to-per­son sup­port, rather than us­ing the In­ter­net, it is un­de­ni­able that the fu­ture is web-based. Phon­ing call cen­tres or go­ing in-store for as­sis­tance is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly te­dious and peo­ple just don’t have the time for this kind of in­ter­ac­tion any­more. The Ac­cen­ture sur­vey showed that only 6% of south African con­sumers in­ter­act with com­pa­nies via so­cial me­dia on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. while this is cer­tainly a low per­cent­age, it is grow­ing by the day due to the con­sis­tent na­ture of the frus­tra­tions with cus­tomer ser­vice that con­sumers have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing for decades. south Africans are most likely to tell their im­me­di­ate fam­ily, as­so­ci­ates, and cir­cle of friends about neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with com­pa­nies – and now use so­cial me­dia to do so. so­cial me­dia is without a doubt the most ef­fec­tive way of tar­nish­ing a com­pany that has done you wrong, and this is pre­cisely why mod­ern busi­nesses have to be on top of their so­cial me­dia games.

Pete Matthaei, Di­rec­tor and co-founder of Brand­chat, says the best way of im­prov­ing cus­tomer ser­vice is by be­ing im­me­di­ately ac­ces­si­ble via in­stant mes­sag­ing plat­forms. “Com­pa­nies should re­alise the true im­pact of bad cus­tomer ser­vice and its ef­fect on cus­tomer loy­alty and sat­is­fac­tion,” he says. Cape Town-based Brand­chat is a sin­gle plat­form for brands and their agen­cies to talk to cus­tomers in a highly per­son­alised manner and across mul­ti­ple mes­sag­ing plat­forms. It in­te­grates a range of mes­sag­ing plat­forms in­clud­ing Face­book and wechat, al­low­ing the end user to com­mu­ni­cate and in­ter­act with a num­ber of busi­nesses via the plat­form they choose.

some prom­i­nent busi­nesses that are al­ready on the Brand­chat band­wagon in­clude: stan­dard Bank, Zando, News24, ENCA, and orderin. These all have rapidly grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties and have found the plat­form to be ex­tremely use­ful when deal­ing with dis­grun­tled cus­tomers. Matthaei stresses that it is cru­cial for busi­nesses to re­spond ef­fec­tively to cus­tomers when they com­plain: “Cus­tomers can be very de­mand­ing, but with an ef­fec­tive re­sponse, it is still pos­si­ble to ob­tain a more loyal cus­tomer af­ter­wards than you had be­fore they ex­pe­ri­enced the prob­lem.”

Not only does Brand­chat al­low busi­nesses to com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively with cus­tomers who have com­plaints, it has also de­vel­oped tools which en­able com­pa­nies to cre­ate en­gag­ing ad­di­tional con­tent – such as lat­est news, special of­fers, and get­ting feedback via polls or sur­veys – to share with users in real time.

since 2015, Brand­chat has at­tracted over 1.9 mil­lion users and it’s grow­ing daily. The plat­form will soon in­te­grate with what­sapp, mak­ing it one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to reach cus­tomers and deal im­me­di­ately and ef­fec­tively with their qualms. There is no doubt that this is the di­rec­tion we are all headed, for­go­ing tra­di­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods as these new ways are eas­ier – start­ing a chat is quicker than down­load­ing an app, far more im­me­di­ate and cheaper than mak­ing a phone call, and sim­pler than try­ing to fig­ure out a com­plex web site.

Every com­pany is quick to say that the cus­tomer is its num­ber one pri­or­ity, but few “walk the talk” when it comes to up­ping their stan­dards and de­liv­er­ing re­mark­able cus­tomer ser­vice. Great cus­tomer ser­vice doesn’t just put a smile on the cus­tomer’s face, it helps a com­pany un­der­stand its cus­tomers bet­ter, de­fines the com­pany, and im­pacts their bottom line – it’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion.

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