A recent article named the 10 companies that offered the worst customer service. The article can be found here: http://www.alternet.org/10-companies-act-they-hate-their-customers
Whether or not these companies are actually the worst when it comes to customer service, there is a common thread among the companies and industries. Each of the 10 companies fall into one of three categories:
- Cable / Telecom / Mobile
- Financial Services
Each company on the list offers services that can be considered utilities, and necessary for everyday activities. Each of these categories represents companies we love to hate.
Customer service may not be as important to the companies that have captive audiences as it is to companies with competition next door and on the web, but it should. Companies within the above categories should be more aware of how they treat their customers. According to the 2015 Eldeman Trust Barometer, only 54% of consumers trust the financial services industry. Ask anyone you know how they feel about airlines or cable companies today, and that number will be much higher.
When consumers feel their choices are limited, such as choosing an insurance company or bank, they are more likely to have higher expectations on the services provided. When consumers feel as if they do not have any choice in their providers, they become more critical of every interaction. With every benefit reduction, additional fees and changes in policies, consumers become more resentful and mistrusting with their existing relationships. One or two changes are ok, but as they add up over time, so does consumer dissatisfaction.
Recently, I had issues with two different companies within these categories. One experience was positive, and one was less than satisfactory. My TV, Internet and Phone Services are all with one provider. My phone line was not working for several days and after trying to resolve the issue online and over the phone, I had to schedule an appointment. The next available appointment for me was not until next week, and during work hours. Since I did not want to wait 3 weeks to have the issue resolved, I had no choice but to accept that time. I am already upset with the technician who is going to be fixing the problem, and he or she has not done anything wrong. On a positive note, I use the online banking services my bank offers. I was trying to make a deposit with my smart phone, and was having difficulties. I received a message from the bank asking if I needed assistance and offered me a click to chat option. I did not accept the help, but it was good to know the bank was there to assist.
Social media and online reviews hold more weight today than ever before. Over 70% of consumers read online reviews before choosing to deal with a brand or company. Peer to peer reviews hold more influence than a financial professional or insurance agent.
In a time where consumers can switch banks with a few clicks and swipes and enroll with a different health insurance provider each year during the ACA enrollment period and cable companies are no longer the only provider of TV content, creating a positive customer service experience is crucial. In the past, switching companies may have been more trouble than it was worth. Now, not only can the consumer switch with relative ease, they can share their displeasure with the world.
On a positive note, building positive relationships with consumers can go a long way. Today, when everyone has a voice and can be heard, individuals are just as likely to get a response and acknowledgement of a positive online post as they are for a negative one. Thanking consumers for their kind words can go a long way. People are more likely to forgive a company for a mistake if they believe the corporate entity is interested in everything their consumers have to say. When a company only responds to negative comments for damage control, customers can see through the charade.
Keeping customers happy is what keeps your customers. Responding to customer complaints with speed and earnestness helps resolve potential crises, and thanking customers for their praise increases customer loyalty. When I was trying and failing to make an online deposit, I was getting angry with my bank. My feelings shifted immediately when the bank stepped in and tried to help. I’m still mad at my cable provider, though.