Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be the customer you would like to have

We talk a lot about how we can provide excellent customer service, but do we put the same effort into being  good customers?

© iQoncept -
If we do not treat the vendors we encounter respectfully, how can we expect our own customers to appreciate the efforts we put in for them and give us the gift of their ongoing business?

If you find it hard to treat your suppliers with respect then I have to say that it is probably time  for you to go and look for a new supplier. But, if you are complaining amongst yourselves and have never discussed your dissatisfaction with them, then call, set up a meeting time and try to resolve your issues. You are doing neither yourself, or your supplier any favours by keeping quiet.

Simple matter of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". How would you feel if you found out that one of your customers was running your service down to anyone who would listen, without giving you a chance to respond and rectify their concerns...well don't do the same to your own suppliers.

In this socially connected world we are living in, businesses cannot afford for their customers to be publicly criticising their products or services. Whereas a few years ago the comments would have reached the ears of a few local contacts and would have quickly been forgotten, today a comment about poor service can spread from one side of the world to another in minutes, they can never be erased and so cannot not be forgotten. If this is the first time that your supplier has let you down, think twice before heading to twitter with that 140 character rant, talk to them first. Maybe it is appropriate to let the world know your opinion if this is just the last in a stream of letdowns, but if that is the case you should probably be talking with your feet and taking your business elsewhere.

Social networks give customers a lot of power and we need to use it wisely, just because you can does not mean you should. Does the local restaurant deserve a flaming because their service was a little tardy? Does your software vendor need to be hung out to dry on Twitter and Facebook because you feel that your issue did not get the attention it warranted? A particularly clever, humorous or novel complaint can go viral, take this one which has now had over 12 million views on YouTube.

I am not sure if I am just noticing it more or if there really is a lot more whining going on, but my twitter stream seems to contain a multitude of  complaints about service -  far more than I had noticed before. So I guess my question is, why are people turning to social media to complain?

© fergregory -
There could be a few reasons for this

  1. It's easy, a few words, a hashtag and you are done
  2. It's instant - unhappy about the service in a shop or restaurant, you can tell the world about it before you have even left the building
  3. It's faceless - you don't have to stand in front of anyone and tell them you are not happy, this way no-one will (in most cases) know who you are, physically, when you complain
  4. It's cathartic - it just feels good to get it off your chest, the virtual equivalent of throwing a plate or similar
Now, I have to admit, I have complained via Twitter about what I felt was particularly poor service when I was checking in for a flight from Brisbane to Auckland. After 50 minutes in the check-in line and knowing that there would no longer be time for the duty free shopping and relaxed cup of coffee I was planning before boarding, I tweeted my dissatisfaction with the fact that there were still only three counters operating. I received a fairly prompt tweet back asking me to please go to a web address and make my comments there. Not sure if it was coincidental or not, but four new checkouts opened a couple of minutes later and the line disappeared very quickly. So perhaps the tweet of complaint was worthwhile.

A twitter rant could well destroy a supplier relationship. Apply the same rule you should use for any communication - never push "send" when you are angry! The consequences may well outweigh any benefits to your own state of mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment