October 28th, 2009
by Pamela Sherman
A new level of frustration and interest in CUSTOMER SERVICE has been accelerated by my recent move across country. My increase in purchasing activities to convert our new NYC apartment into a home, has thrown me into the middle of some very irritating and time consuming customer service situations.
I keep asking myself, “How did things go so wrong with these companies!? How many times do I have to tell the whole story, with no real resolution? Who will answer my call this time and in what country? …Can I trust them this time around?
To me, it seems that customer service is worse than it usually is. But please, tell me YOUR OPINION… Does it seem worse to you??? Can our economy and/or poor outsourcing take all the blame?
As BUSINESS OWNERS, we all know that customer service is critically important. –But, do we really understand how customers have the potential to either INJURE or HELP our businesses with SPREADING AND CONTINUING IMPACT?! –Especially with today’s Internet and social media networking.
Here’s a question to help us realize the impact of customer service and relations –both NEGATIVE and POSITIVE:
Is your company creating “Customer Icebergs” or “Customer Radiants”?
This is a term I’ve thankfully borrowed from Avinash Narula, a customer service expert and author. He’s written 3 books on customer relations and is on-line with his Customer Retention Academy website (www.customermath.com). I like the emotional connection he creates with the word, “iceberg”. –Ooo so cold… and deep in it’s destructive capacities. He describes it as someone who is so dissatisfied and upset that they go out of their way to share their experience with others, lashing back with intent to harm. They can become a nightmare to some while a hero to many others (in business and of course in the consumer market). New technologies are increasing their power as a new breed of “Customer Vigilantes” on the web (see our previously posted example).
This is a descriptive term that I have created in contrast to “icebergs.” They have equal power. Think of the ongoing warmth, naturally projected when your business builds positive relationships and creates “customer enthusiasm.” There are very few things as powerful as word-of-mouth (or nowadays, as our WMT teammate Sarah says, “word-of-mouse”). “Customer Radiants” radiate their positive feelings and opinions far beyond themselves; THEY HELP SELL YOUR BUSINESS to those around them. Networking on the Internet is of course stronger and more expansive than ever. Social Media has increased our ability to connect, share and educate. And, in times like these, we are more apt to trust our network of friends and seek their opinions. Just think of how often your purchasing choices and decisions have been influenced by what you’ve read on the web.
If more companies are in fact faltering in their customer service and relations efforts, NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME to raise the bar and STAND OUT–while expanding positive words and connections through the web.
In conclusion, I hope I can report back to you soon that things positively resolved with these national companies. (*Oh please dear companies, make me warm… and melt away this deep icy chill that’s forming beneath me.)