Friday, March 6, 2020

March - The Age of Going Viral


The Age of Going Viral –
The Good and the Very, Very Bad


With all the coverage of the coronavirus, it got me thinking about viruses and how easily they spread. There is nothing systematic about the spread of a virus, especially when it can be spread through the air. You don’t know who might come in contact with it and spread it to others.

You can follow precautions to protect yourself, but there is no guarantee you won’t be exposed to a virus. You don’t know who will be able to survive the disease and who won’t. If you are infected, quick treatment by knowledgeable professionals is critical. But what about customer feedback that goes viral?

Going Viral – Spreading Like a Virus

The term “going viral” refers to a piece of information that spreads quickly and randomly, just like a virus. It is very difficult to predict what information will become viral. In the online world, a lot of what goes “viral” creates a positive impact, but not always.

A juicy bit of gossip, true or not, has always tempted people to pass it on. With the lightning speed of digital communication, negative information can reach an enormous number of people in a very short time. When that piece of negative information relates to your business, damage control is critical, but not easy.

Going Viral in a Good Way

Phone cameras make it easy to capture moments on video or photos today. People see something special happening, and immediately, the phone comes out to record it. A public marriage proposal, a tearful reunion, the last-minute winning score for a game. Almost just as quickly, those videos and photos get shared on social media. Sometimes they get a few likes, but other times they circulate the Internet, gathering thousands or millions of viewers. We now call this – going viral.

It’s almost impossible to predict what type of post will go viral. If it is a post that relates to a company’s customer service in a positive way, free marketing can be a huge benefit. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Trader Joe’s Entertainment TeamA crying toddler in a shopping cart isn’t an unusual occurrence. Most of us have witnessed it in a grocery store, multiple times. It was the response of the Trader Joe’s employees that made this moment video-worthy and sent it viral. Instead of just ignoring the child, employees in the area of the checkout counter began singing and dancing. Their decision to engage the child with a fun distraction earned hundreds of thousands of views and a big thumbs-up for the grocery chain.
  • Denny’s Restaurant Service to the DisabledWait staff who are friendly, courteous, and competent will always impress diners; the opposite will repel them. The staff at a Denny’s Restaurant in Las Vegas have gone far beyond these basics of good customer service. Visitors to Vegas witnessed and recorded the manager and wait staff interacting with a person with several disabilities. The staff took the time to communicate with the customer via a word board he carried with him. After delivering his order, the staff member spent some extra moments cutting the food into bite-sized pieces. In between waiting on other customers, the wait staff would stop at his table and feed him, something he couldn’t do on his own. Best of all – this wasn’t a one-time occurrence. No ad campaign that could achieve for Denny’s what this social media share did.


Each of these situations demonstrated the one thing consumers want more than anything in customer service – genuine, personal connection. They also demonstrate how far-reaching one action can be for your business.


The Bad: When Viral Becomes a Virus

Having stories of your exceptional customer service go viral is a great perk. But what about when the shoe falls the other direction, and it’s a customer service fail instead? Unfortunately, people are more prone to remember a negative story than a positive one. The collateral damage of a viral exposure of poor customer service can do considerable damage to the image of your business. Check out these big fails.

  • Verizon’s Lack of Sympathy for the BereaveLosing a parent is tough, no matter the age or the circumstances. In addition to dealing with grief, the family also has to handle several incidental details, like closing accounts. When a daughter attempted to close her deceased parent’s account with Verizon, her request was denied because she didn’t know the pin code. That’s understandable. However, even after receiving the death certificate for the deceased customer, Verizon continued to send monthly bills for the account and refused to give a refund. Customer service employees’ poor handling of the situation landed the company some very negative publicity. Not something any brand wants. 
  • Charter Offers Flippant Answer to Storm VictimsYour home has been torn apart by a tornado; all your belongings sent sailing on the wind. What happens when you call the cable service to stop the billing? In a situation in Alabama after a tornado devastated several homes, victims were told that their accounts could be canceled, but they would still need to return the cable boxes or be fined over $200. When the customer service rep was reminded that the box flew away with the rest of the house, the rep suggested they start searching through the neighborhood debris to find their boxes. When customers began sharing this story online, Charter was quick to issue a statement saying they would correct the situation. What do you think people will remember, the customer’s complaints or Charter’s remedy? I think you can figure that out.
Apologies and corrective action are essential in combatting negative publicity, but preventative action is always better than trying to contain a virus after it has spread.


Keeping Negative Feedback Contained

There is no way to prevent negative feedback from happening. Even with great training programs and empathetic, caring employees, we all disappoint customers from time to time. At the same time, we shouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and take what comes. We can limit the spread of this “virus” by recognizing the conditions in which it thrives and taking preventative measures.

Your biggest enemy, as with any viral outbreak, is time. The quicker your response to a customer complaint or negative comment, the less likely it is to spread. To have that quick response, you need to have an early warning system in place. You don’t want to find out about the problem through Good Morning America or any other large media outlet.

Your Early Warning System

The statistics say that 67% of customer turnover could be prevented by quick and appropriate action when an issue is identified. To do that, you need to have a system in place that immediately collects feedback from all the different channels your customer might use – the phone, your website, email, social media, online review sites. Then that information must be sent immediately to the person closest to the problem, so it can be addressed in the most personal way possible. That is what Guest-Note was created to do. Contact us to learn more about this new viral protection tool.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Importance of Responding Quickly to Customer Feedback

Customer feedback can be negative or positive. Regardless of which it is, the customer has taken the time to express their opinion to you. If you acknowledge their communication about your business or product, they feel heard and valued. And since an unhappy customer is more likely to leave feedback than a happy customer, you have a tremendous opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. 

Unhappy customers seldom wait very long before expressing their displeasure. They are most likely to communicate their negative feedback either immediately or shortly after their experience. The big question is: How quickly do they expect you to respond?

Customer Feedback Response Times
Customers have multiple communication channels they can use to express their opinion of your service. The means of communication can alter the expectations of response time. A customer’s age and gender can also be a factor in the amount of patience they are willing to exercise.

Feedback in Person
When convenient, such as a retail situation, customers will often give you or your employees feedback in person. This gives you the best opportunity to rectify anything that went wrong or to thank them for expressing their appreciation. Don’t wait. Act immediately. They expect you to.

Phone Call to Customer Service
Businesses love being able to automate this time-consuming task rather than hiring extra employees or outsourcing to a call service. Customers, on the other hand, hate this technology. Having to call customer service on the phone has become a situation where you plan to block off part of your day in hopes of reaching a real person and finding the right solution. According to a 2017 Microsoft report, 30% of customers said the most frustrating aspect of modern customer service is not talking to a knowledgeable live person.

Email Correspondence
Almost every business now has an email dedicated to customer service inquiries. If there isn’t an email, then there is at least a contact form on their website that sends an email to someone inside the organization. Email is one of the most popular means of sending feedback or requesting information from a business. 62% of customer service data respondents say that email is their preferred means of contacting customer support. 

The majority of people (80%) said they would expect a response to an email within 24 hours. 37% said they would expect a response in less than an hour. (Based on  a study by Arise Virtual Solutions)

Social Media
Do you recognize your social media accounts as customer service portals? If you don’t, you need to start paying attention to posts and messages coming from customers. This is especially true of the younger generations, aged 18-34. Look at these stats for that age group:

  • 65% believe social media is an effective customer service channel
  • 50% have praised a brand on social media
  • That same 50% have complained about a brand on social media

It isn’t just feedback that brands receive on social media. 55% of this audience ask customer service questions through social media. Are companies responding? Yes! 85% received a response to their question through social media. 

Expected response time on social media? 20% said less than an hour; 57% said less than 24 hours. Over 15% expected a response in less than 15 minutes through Facebook.

Chatbot and Live Chat
When it comes to customer service through online chat, people are 3-4 times more likely to use Live Chat than an automated chatbot. It comes down to the “live person” preference again. Almost 50% of those surveyed by Microsoft had used Live Chat for customer service compared to only 10% using an automated chatbot. People considered chatbots less effective than other options.

How will a delayed response affect your business?
A brand’s level of customer service will have a direct effect on consumer loyalty. 96% of people factor in customer service in choosing one brand over another. Each year consumers have higher expectations for customer service than the year before. In a competitive market, you want to be the one that meets or exceeds these expectations, not the one falling behind. 

When it comes to Facebook, the platform actually measures and reports the responsiveness of your business page to messages. It puts that out there for everyone to see. You want your page to have the badge that says, “Very responsive to messages.”

Response time is especially important for negative social media posts or negative reviews. The majority of the time, if you respond in a helpful way to a negative post, you will win a loyal customer. If you ignore it for 24 hours or more, 50% of people say they won’t buy from you again. In addition, 62% of the people who read the negative post will not buy from you either.

Technology Comes to the Rescue
As you can see, the majority of customer feedback and customer questions are now initiated online through multiple channels. That presents a logistical nightmare for any organization. The fact that consumers also prefer to communicate with a “knowledgeable, live person” adds to the complexity of the situation. Learn how Guest-Note.com can help you deliver personalized customer service while also shortening your response time across channels.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Are Customer Service Response Rates Hurting Your Business

What Happens When a Customer’s Request or Complaint Is Ignored?


Speed and convenience are both highly valued by today’s consumers. We want it fast, and we want it easy. In 2011, Oracle reported that 50 percent of consumers gave a brand just one week to respond to an inquiry before they stop doing business with them. In 2020, waiting a week for a company to respond sounds like an eternity. There are too many options available at a click of a button to wait that long for a response.
You might assume that the urgency attached to today’s consumer communications would result in a more diligent response rate. Unfortunately, statistics show that most companies fall far below the 100% response rate you might expect.

Customer Relationship Management in the Digital Age


There are several reasons why companies aren’t as responsive to customer communications as they should be. One of the biggest issues hindering customer service response rates is the use of multiple communication channels by consumers.

For many years, a customer had only three options for filing a complaint or requesting information from a business – in person, over the telephone, or by mail. All of those methods are still available, but now we also have email, chatbots, and social media. Seeking assistance In-person is seldom convenient, snail mail takes too long, and telephone customer service is notorious for long wait times and the limitation of automated options. Many companies have seen a significant increase in requests for support through email, but the real hotbed of consumer communication today is social media.

With both individuals and businesses utilizing social media, it has become a natural go-to for consumers frustrated with a lack of response through private channels. It provides convenient access to a company’s communication channel. It is often assumed that a public display of the consumer’s complaint or concern will carry more weight. Unfortunately, according to SproutSocial, 90% of social media contacts by consumers go unanswered.

Poor Response Rates Harm a Business


No one likes to be ignored. This is especially true when you want to resolve an issue with a product or service. The repercussions of silence may be more damaging than you realize. Look at these stats:
  •  66% of consumers care more about the experience than price.
  •  56% of customers will boycott a business when they experience poor customer service.
  •  people tell an average of 15 others about their bad experiences.
  • 67% of customer turnover could be prevented by handling the issue instead of ignoring it.
According to all the stats, only one thing is worse than ignoring a customer’s communication – giving a rude response or a response that indicates their issue won’t be resolved. So, follow the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Why Aren’t Companies Responding?


There may be some cases where the company truly doesn’t care about customer communication, but that is seldom the case. After all, without customers, no business will succeed. The reasons behind the lack of response are multiple, but generally, they relate to the increased volume of customer communication and poor visibility of accurate response rates.

According to SproutSocial, in 2017, over 35% of the messages received by brands on social media needed a response. This showed a 146% increase over the data collected in 2014. We can easily assume this activity has continued to increase with the growth of social media use each year. Managing this kind of growth in your customer service department creates an obvious challenge.

The bigger issue relates to visibility. Many brands aren’t even aware of the high volume of customer inquiries that go unanswered. There is more than one reason for this.

First off, many brands outsource their social media management. If no one in the company is reading the social posts from consumers, it’s natural to assume the response rate will be quite low. The bigger problem is one of priorities.

Customer phone calls are still considered a top priority, which has some legitimacy. However, that means email contacts are often left until “I have more time.” Social media communication is even further down the priority list since these messages don’t usually have designated routing to the appropriate personnel.

Solving the Response Rate Problem


The customer service sector generally sees automation as the solution to volume and visibility issues. It has been used heavily for telephone response and often for creating email responses. Automated social media response has been more limited, often only answering direct messaging and not public posts. The biggest complaint consumers have about automated response is the lack of personalization and not finding the answer they need.

Innovative technology like Guest-Note uses a combination of automated function and real person interaction to create a personalized solution for all your customer communication management. Messages from all channels, including social media, are routed to the person most connected to the issue. You establish routing based on location or department or other criteria.

Turn a Negative Into a Positive


Guest-Note solves the visibility problem while also giving personalized attention to your most engaged customers. Just as no response makes for an unhappy and vocal customer, a quick, positive response has the opposite effect. When companies come through and show consumers that they care, 47% of those consumers will share their praise with the world and give you kudos online. Learn more about how Guest-Note.com can improve response rates for your brand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The diminishing value of Customer Surveys

Survey Fatigue - It's Real

See the source imageIt's something everyone can relate to - SURVEY REQUESTS.  It's impossible to avoid them. Whether you do business in person or online, survey requests are inescapable.  They clutter receipts, flood inboxes, and popup on websites. Even routine doctor visits are followed up with a request to fill out a survey.

Intense competition across all business sectors has raised the importance of keeping customers happy.  Not doing so is the quickest way to jeopardize a business.  Surveys have long been the defacto standard in how companies measure themselves when it comes to customer satisfaction.

There's just one problem - surveys no longer work as a reliable proxy measure of customer loyalty.  Their overuse and misuse have decreased the value of the information they produce.  Incentives offered to entice customers to take surveys have only introduced noise in the data.  For a sample to be valid, it must randomly represent a cross-section of the population (all customers). If it does not, the inaccurate metrics can inflate the true measure of satisfaction.

How many surveys a year do you take?

If you're like most folk, time is your most precious asset and filling out surveys is not how you wish to spend it.  So it begs the questions, who are the folks filling out all these surveys.  The answer is that most businesses don't know beyond a few demographic details. The fact that survey requests seem to be a ubiquitous part of every transaction increases the likelihood that they are ignored by the very customers whose opinion you value most.  If the individuals filling out surveys have an agenda other than accurately reporting their experience, such as reacting to an offered incentive of some kind, their data may only be adding distortion to overall findings.

When the expected is represented as the exceptional

Most transactions involve routine purchases; groceries, dry cleaning, gas, pizza, etc. and are nonremarkable by nature.  Customers expect hassle-free transactions - that's the minimum customer expectation that must be met.  The fact that a customer can get in and out efficiently with the items they're after is hardly an event that they are going to "recommend to friends and family" - think of the absurdity of applying common survey questions to these run-of-the-mill transactions. 

The opportunity to deliver exceptional service

The chance to shine in the eyes of customers comes when they have a question or encounter a problem, or submit a complaint.  It is through these opportunities that a customer's loyalty is cultivated.  All too often customer complaints and inquiries submitted through the corporate website (contact us page) receive a canned response or worse go unanswered.

The age of Customer Communication Management (CCM)

Today's consumer has a surplus of communication options at their disposal; email, texting, the contact us link, call center, numerous social media options (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc.) -- and new channels emerging all the time.   

Addressing customer inquiries and concerns on a timely basis is too important to manage via email and Spreadsheets.  New platforms like Guest-Note (GN) are specifically designed to help organizations manage, address, and benefit from all communications with customers.  Unlike CRM, Guest-Note is easy to set up and administer. Most importantly, there are no user licensing fees, just one monthly fee and anyone in the organization (that is granted access) can access it.  This is an important difference, license based systems can be very costly to allow company-wide access.


What it means to be a Customer-Centric organization

CCM platforms like Guest-Note make it easy to place the customer in front of the entire organization.   To be Customer-Centric means everyone in the organization is focused on the customer and GN does that.  With GN features that can automatically route customer input to those within the organization closest to the issue - like the store manager of the location where the problem occurred.  When those closest to an issue are responsible for making things right with a customer they are more likely to address the root cause of the problem, reducing the chance that future customers experience a similar issue. 


Stop Surveying and Start listening to your customers

Customers committed to your brand take the time to let you know when they have an issue or question - they represent your most valuable customer.  Responding quickly is a major step toward ensuring that customer remains loyal.  Even companies without a designated team of customer service agents can effectively manage all customer feedback like rock stars.  Check out www.Guest-Note.com today.

March - The Age of Going Viral

The Age of Going Viral – The Good and the Very, Very Bad With all the coverage of the coronavirus, it got me thinking about viruses and...