We like to talk about what good customer service (CS) can do for a business, but what about at the other end of the spectrum? What can bad cases of CS do to your business? Can it knock your customers’ belief in your brand? Or is it something you can easily recover from by planning in advance? With so many of the biggest brands suffering from many instances of bad press, it’s interesting to understand how they recover from this or if they recover at all. The greater concern is that businesses can lose out on a certain customer’s business forever, which could cost a lot more than you think.
How much can it hurt a business?
Many businesses encourage public reviews online, and more than 88% of customers are checking these more and more before making a purchase, if they are greeted by bad opinions it’s bound to make them second guess. A customer is more likely to express a negative opinion about a business than a positive one – 95% share bad experiences with others, whilst 87% share good customer experiences. And whilst it may not seem so bad if you have one or two bad reviews of your business online, a flurry of negative reviews can end in disaster for your reputation. If a trend appears in these reviews, it’s important to address the issues, and not just simply ignore it, so you can find the root cause.
With so many customers actively sharing their bad experiences of businesses, the chance of it possibly reaching a larger audience is growing too. If the amount of bad reviews online continues to grow, your business may risk losing customers. A business can be subject to losing 22% of potential customers when just one negative review exists online, and if 4 negative reviews are found, 70% of potential customers could be lost. So, those one or two reviews don’t look so harmless now, do they?
The hidden dangers of bad customer service
Obviously bad CS can result in the loss of customers, but what does that mean for you and your business? There are a few things that might not clearly influence your business. It’s a well-known fact that it’s more expensive to acquire new customers rather than retain your current ones. But bad customer service can even affect how sensitive customers are to prices changing. If a customer had a bad experience with a product or a business, it has been proven that customers will feel more emotionally affected by price, price changes and additional fees. That means that chance you had to provide good CS has not only resulted in an unhappy customer, it also means they might be more likely to post their annoyance online or tell friends or family about the issue.
You may assume that if a customer has something go wrong with their order or product, they will automatically complain. Research conducted by management consulting/customer research firm, TARP, shows that 50% of customers will just not bother contacting CS, choosing to sit in silence and never buy from you again. This means there could be chances upon chances to turn a customer from an unhappy one to a happy one, which are being wasted. A way to ensure feedback is gained from customers who usually stay silent is to send out a feedback email a few days after they receive the item, a popular method used by Amazon!
Businesses who have suffered
One case of bad CS that made it viral was the service provided by United Airlines. When a singer’s guitar was broken during one of their flights, he was not met with the best reaction from their staff. To voice his concern regarding the service the airline was providing, he wrote a special song just for the business which gained over 1.6 million views and several thousand comments from other customers who felt similarly. United Airlines could have saved themselves this bad press if his guitar had been handled with care and respect or in the unfortunate event of something like this happening, offered better CS after the incident. When he asked for compensation, United Airlines CS department constantly told him no, which only added fire to his fury. Only after his video went viral did the business offer compensation and say sorry, but by then it was too late.
AT&T have also struggled to manage their reputation, with hard to understand bills and years of bad reviews. They are a prime example of a business who has suffered on the behalf of poor CS until they attempted to improve it in the past few years. But their reputation for poor service has stuck fast, with multiple websites hosting very negative reviews from before they cleaned their act up…
So, what would we advise doing to prevent any sticky situations like the ones above? Always respond positively, even if the customer has worked on your operator’s last nerve. If they write a review online, do not delete it! This will only anger that customer more and may lead to more reviews. And others are likely to have seen it already anyway, so you’re not doing any damage control. Make sure to regularly ask for feedback, so you can understand your customers’ pain points before it becomes too much for them. And if it’s just one bad review, don’t let it get you down! You can’t please everyone, and through every mistake is a chance to learn a lesson to hopefully win back that customer’s trust.
About the Author: Elena Lockett works for the marketing department at FM Outsource, who provide outsourcing solutions for businesses of all sizes across customer services, digital marketing and IT development. Elena spends her free time running a fashion blog, presenting a weekly radio and attempting to go to the gym.
FM Outsource provides bespoke outsourcing solutions for businesses of all sizes across customer services, digital marketing, and IT development. Experts in digital communications, FM Outsource helps businesses respond to and engage with customers across email, Facebook, Instagram, SMS, Trustpilot, Twitter, voice and webchat. Our ethos is to offer a unique balance of 24/7/365 productivity and quality using in-house native-speaking multilingual staff delivering exceptional consumer experiences. Working with start-up businesses through to enterprise level clients, we offer experience and services across a range of verticals including catering, fashion, finance, logistics, sports, retail and utilities.
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