In the offline world, the quality of the customer service can make or break a business especially in its early years. A big company with millions of customers can ride out the storm of negative feedback on their customer care services but that doesn’t mean they do not care or try and improve the care they give to their customers.
They will try their best to make it as easy as possible for people to contact them and to rectify any issues there are to the service they provide as smooth as humanly possible. They know that you cannot please everyone all of the time and that occasionally there will be gripes from people that they simply cannot control yet they will do their hardest.
For many of the bigger companies, they probably wouldn’t have grown to where they are now without first setting a quality customer service in place. It only takes a few bad reviews to start people talking and that can then lead to a growing negative social opinion of your company.
It is very much like creating a bad brand, you probably want to be known by as many people as possible like a brand name similar to Nike or Coke but instead you could become known as the ‘you don’t want to buy from them’ company and that is it, game over. With today’s social media networks and online forums it doesn’t take long for rumours or gripes to spread like wild fire!
With many of us being small online businesses with many probably being nothing more than a single person based blogging or social media marketing business, it can be very dangerous if we get a bad name or reputation from the beginning.
One of the best ways to do this is to simply be you. If you have a website set up a company blog to run alongside it where you introduce people to the real you. Create a Facebook page and Twitter account and post some semi private information such as photos of you enjoying a night out at the big game or stating that you are having a night in with your other half watching a great film with pizza. Do a mixture of work based posts and home life posts.
Make your readers and clients know that you are a real person; make them see that you are not just a faceless corporation trying to beat targets and suck profits from every angle and that you are instead trying to build a business that offers an excellent service. This can build a lot of respect and trust from people as they can see you as being one of them and make a huge difference to the type of questions and issues you might get from customers as they are not seeing you as just some standard automaton in a paid call centre somewhere with a script.
If you do have some staff that deal with your complaints try and make it well known that they are going to deliver a quality service and that if they fail you or your company should be informed so that you can also remedy the issues. Why not start a blog for your staff so again people can see that they are real people just like your clients.
When people send you emails or Facebook and Twitter questions try and answer as many as you can in the best way possible. Try not to start a public battle or argument if the person is making a complaint or gripe that is deemed unfair or inaccurate.
By all means put them straight and be polite, if they persist invite them to discuss the matter further via a private chat but stay friendly, if they do not want to chat in private or stay friendly themselves then it will soon reflect on them, your actions will reflect on you so always be mindful of that when you are dealing with customer complaints in a public arena.
People like real people, they trust them more than a faceless corporation and it can be very easy to slip into becoming a faceless business online. Many websites are created to sell services and products but the creators can hide behind them, customers sometimes do not know who they are buying from or dealing with. That can lead to distrust and lose potential sales.
You need to build up trust as people generally spend money with people or organisations they trust.
It makes sense really, would you buy a bag of crisps from Bob and Margret who run the local shop that has been trading for 20 years or would you bypass them and buy a slightly cheaper bag from the guy standing on the street corner who has suddenly appeared, wearing a dark hooded top hiding his face and appears to be looking over his shoulder every few seconds as if to be looking for the local constabulary?
Seriously, who would you choose? You might think that I have gone overboard with the two extreme examples but we are talking about trust here. Who would you trust and why? It makes me wonder why some people start businesses, when they cannot even greet you, a new customer, with a smile. It isn’t hard to say something like ‘hello, how are you today?’ and just be genuinely polite.
Everyone knows that rudeness just puts people off, so why start a business whose very survival is dependent upon having many happy customers only to be rude and not use the most basic and understood concept in human interaction. Being polite and making your customers feel that you are pleased they are there will gain loyalty and trust which in turn leads to sales.
I do mean genuine politeness and not that awful American craze that was popular a few years ago. When entering a store you were greeted by a young spotty part time robot with a false smile and a cheesy line which they had to use for everyone. They also said upon leaving ‘Come back soon, missing you already’ and all that kind of pap. They worked from a script; it never came across as genuine and was very sickly. Maybe that is the English in me but I do dislike false business practices.
Trust can be destroyed when you do things without sincerity; estate agents and car salesman have reputations that are hard to shake off thanks to years of over the top smarmy sales patter. A new person entering the industry has already got a label as ‘dodgy’ or ‘untrustworthy’ before they have even attempted to sell their first car or property.
Real trust is grown from being real and genuine. So if you have just started or intend to start an online business then I suggest you spend some time focusing on letting your potential customers know who you are and build up genuine trust by interacting with them as well as creating your products and services.