Poor customer service negatively impacts businesses in a lot of ways, and can create irreversible results with both new and repeat clients. First, prospects that you’d like to turn into customers will likely change their minds. Secondly, existing customers will become frustrated and take their business elsewhere. And both have the potential to cause damage when they report their experiences to others. In this digital age, customers share information with the click of a button, making it even more important to head off service issues at once.
Hearing the Complaints
When a disgruntled internet customer makes a complaint, the best thing for any business to do is to have that complaint settled quickly by the company. Normally, having customer grievances “go public” makes it harder to deal with them and harder to effect some damage control. There are however, beneficial third party services that allow mistreated customers to air their valid complaints with the intent that the offending business will listen. Management that wants to stay in business wants to listen. Since you’re not seeing the customer in person, getting a chance to hear and solve gripes this way often allows resolution in a timely manner and with little effort. It’s not hard either to imagine the good PR that comes from being perceived as a big business that listens.
Small Business Catastrophe
Poor customer service is catastrophic for small internet companies because they absolutely rely upon repeat customers to survive. Additionally, if there is ever going to be hope of growing the business, prospects must be nurtured so that they turn into loyal shoppers. Positive word of mouth is always key for growth, especially for smaller firms.
Loss of Repeat Customers
Losing a long-time customer is a danger when poor service is allowed. If consumers arrive to your site and are ignored, treated with disrespect, or left alone to wander through pages and wait for service, the clear message they’ll get is that there could be a risk in spending their money here. As a result, many of these people will leave before even considering making a purchase, no matter what types of deals might be found. In fact, customer service is so important that many people are willing to pay more for it, just to feel like their time was well spent.
Loss of Future Customers
Customers experiencing poor online service almost always tell others about it – it makes for grand conversation. Whether out of frustration or because they don’t want their friends and family to have the same bad customer issue, people will relate details of experiences that upset them. Not only does this cost immediate business, but the lost business potential will be exponential over time. Making amends to a new customer who has registered a complaint often takes more input since they don’t have a positive memory of your company to “come back to.”
Great operations attract better employees. After all, no one wants to work in a chaotic environment where they are under-trained or where inadequate staff exists. This type of environment creates an unpleasant morale and leads to high turnover which is hard on everyone. Additionally, it does not reflect well on a company to appear as though it cannot sustain its staff. Thorough training of the entire staff in good customer interaction and company loyalty procedures may be the best investment for any business owner who needs to improve service reputation.
Loss of Profits
Everything connected to poor customer service ultimately leads to bottom line losses. No firm, particularly in a challenging business climate, can afford to lose business due to poor customer service. When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of any business is its reputation. Once that is damaged, it can be very hard to recoup it without a great deal of work.
For any internet business, new or long established, the fears of sudden drops in customer satisfaction, customer purchases, and customer traffic are all too real. Every effort should be made to maintain client loyalty and business reputation at all times by offering the best customer service available. Being dependable to listen to and solve any customer gripes in timely fashion will go a long way toward cementing high satisfaction scores.
Ann Bailey owns a small business dependent on client satisfaction and compiles these situations for consumers and business owners alike. The accessible website Gripevine.com allows consumers a place to voice any customer issue they may have had with poor service and allows the relevant business an opportunity to hear about it and take measures to correct it.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/2438005410/