4 Rules for Customer Service in the New World of Social Commerce
Providing customer service that will generate loyalty and profits in our technology-altered world isn’t a fundamentally different proposition than it was five years ago, but it’s faster, more transparent, twitchy and unforgiving. Follow these new guidelines for working with today’s consumers or risk being left in the dust:
1. The balance of power has shifted. To build customer loyalty, you first need to accept that your customers feel empowered in their relationships with companies. They expect businesses (including yours) to respect that sense of empowerment. If not, they'll lash out at those that don’t. Your customers expect you to be easy to contact, with responses to their comments coming at a high and thoughtful level.
2. Customers return to companies that shoulder their burdens for them. Thriving companies realize that what reasonably could be considered a customer responsibility is now a great opportunity to take upon themselves. This is why your bank is now telling you when your mortgage payment is due, your pharmacy reminds you that it’s time to refill your prescription and your credit card issuer alerts you that your bill is looming.
3. Your customers demand the right to serve themselves. Self-service, formerly a sketchy domain, is now seen by consumers as a must. Consumers demand the availability of self-service because it offers them 24-hour convenience. Companies that ignore the trend toward self-service will be left behind, while the companies that embrace it will thrive.
4. Serve customers fast if you want them to come back. As far as speed goes, your business isn’t just competing against others in your industry. You’re competing against expectations created by Amazon, Starbucks and smartphones that offer instant access to information.
No matter how otherwise perfect your product is, in the eyes of the customer it’s broken if you deliver it late. Worse, on-time delivery is the most movable of moving targets. What seemed speedy last year may seem slow today. Companies in today’s marketplace need to come up with solutions that stay in step with consumers evermore extreme perception of what ‘‘in a timely fashion’’ means. If you don’t, your competition will step in to fill the timeliness void.