According to the Institute of Customer Service “A tangible product is only one aspect of the supplier/customer relationship. The other aspect is service; indeed, in many businesses, there is no physical product. The only relationship is service”

In today’s competitive business environment, the quality of customer service is paramount. By monitoring the quality of our service we have learned a lot from our customer interactions, which has made us rethink our service and processes. For us to the service quality and managing our customers expectations will always be a priority and challenging. For brands, who want to create and maintain a good reputation it is an essential part of marketing particularly if you are a local business or supplier. Are you scared to do them in case you are faced with a negative or nasty review?

We’ve all been there and lets face it customer expectations are pretty high these days and there are plenty of competitor to entice them away. We all say we provide an excellent service, but what if you just didn’t on this one occasion for whatever reason ? Lets face it things do go wrong.

As a small business it is now a necessity to encourage customers to leave a review to manage our reputation effectively. Although it is quick and easy to do not all customers take up the chalice. I must say that I always give feedback or reviews where ever possible.

The first step is dealing with the customer complaint or low review quickly, if it is on social media for all to see. What is really bothering them, and what were their initial expectations ?

  • low quality service
  • low quality product
  • Delivery problems

My aim is to regain their trust and understand their frustrations in the first place, if they are angry I would still remain calm to diffuse the situation. A good customer experience is crucial to the success of any business. When it isn’t delivered, it’s then becomes a problem. Accepting responsibility is the first step in turning a negative into a positive and if they are unhappy with the product they will leave being happy with the customer service and the solution you have provided.

I always thank the customer for their feedback, then validate their experience putting myself in their shoes. If they’ve experienced a low quality product / service, I would show an understanding of the issue and explain how im going to ensure it wont happen again. If their complaint is more general I would get as much detail as possible then take the discussion offline and ring to speak to them. Sometimes it is just a lack of understanding or information. Usually for us it is the delivery or production time has been interpreted wrongly. I try to supply the correct and appropriate information and direct them to that source (maybe your website or a link). In one instance our 3/4 day turnaround didn’t happen because of two bank holidays. We learned from this and adjusted the timescale accordingly.

In all cases, I try to defend my brand publicly and let people know how the issue has been resolved which will gain the trust of your customers and lets them know that you value them. Apologise and offer them a goodwill gesture such as their money back, a future discount or freebies. Above all I learn from it and try to ensure it dosent happen again 🙂

The many options available are growing and it would be unreasonable to ask them to leave a review on all of them. So, which one is optimum for your business and easiest for your customers ? Google My Business, allows reviews, comments, and pictures. Because it is Google, it can give you a boost in a search. Do you opt for your own website perhaps, an email or text direct to the customer ? Do you use a social site like Twitter which is so fast paced it would be difficult to find (unless you had a review hashtag, perhaps), but the tweets can still be found in search results. Facebook is now moving up the ranks as the first place potential customers visit and seems to be working for us. I send a link direct to our Facebook Reviews section of our Page, they then have to click the grey stars to choose a rating, and then write an optional review. They can make that review public, visible to friends, or visible only to them. This for us seems to be the quickest and easiest solution for our customers.

Each provides customers with opinions and reassurance from people just like them.

I would be interested what experiences have you learned from and which platform do you use ?

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