Commentary by George Klein
Consistently providing great service was the foundation that made my businesses successful. Continuous communication and training ensured all employees deeply understand our customer service culture. I believe that all customer feedback is good, including feedback about problems. That is valuable information we can use to improve. In fact, a problem handled quickly and effectively often results in a more loyal customer.
So, it amazes me when I interact with businesses that don’t seem to care or want to hear from customers. I had a bad experience with an upscale restaurant and sent in a web form about the situation. A month later, they haven’t responded to me. I know they received my web form because I immediately started to get marketing emails from them! A timely response would have had much more impact.
Customer service is changing but it isn’t going away. Business can’t ignore customers. Half of customers give a business only one week to respond before they stop doing business with them, and 89 percent began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
So, I ‘m left wondering why this restaurant, as well as other businesses, don’t respond to customers. Here are four of the top reasons I think businesses don’t respond.
They don’t care
Businesses are willing to let bad service go unaddressed. They view problems as a part of doing business. Things do happen, but customers deserve and want a response and an apology when things go wrong. Sixty-eight percent of customers expect higher levels of service than they did one year ago. Individual situations should be handled, but more importantly, businesses should look at feedback over time to identify trends and patterns to drive change.
They don’t like to be criticized
Businesses become defensive when customers criticize them. Most customers complain because they care about the business. They are giving the business valuable information and a chance to improve. View complaints as opportunities! We’ve found that if you give customers an easy and convenient channel to share feedback, they will share all kinds of feedback, including compliments!
Employees are afraid to share feedback
Every business has service failures. Employees are deeply involved with customers and have lots of valuable information about the customer experience. They should feel safe sharing that feedback, and they should never be punished for bringing a problem to the attention of management. These are opportunities to improve service.
They don’t have the manpower to handle feedback
Businesses offer multiple channels customers can use to contact them and should staff appropriately to respond to all channels. Research has found that customers expect a response within 24 hours, and the faster the response time, the more likely customers will be satisfied. Even if there is a problem, a prompt response de-escalates the situation and increase customer satisfaction.
George Klein is the CEO/Founder of Peoplocity, a customer feedback and communication platform. Contact him at George@peoplocity.com.