Once upon a time a client or customer would call a business on the telephone or write a letter; whether it was a complaint or compliment, the conversations remained private.
As we fast forward to the 21st century however, organizations have been forced into finding new ways to deal with public feedback. Customers are empowered with online resources to share opinions. It can happen anytime of day, night or special holiday; the new reality is for businesses to reaffirm good client communication and show the public that we really do care.
The old-fashioned customer service agents spent most of their time on the phones trying to resolve problems, but now such quick social media outlets as Twitter can quickly lead to a firestorm of criticism if not handled immediately. It's not an efficient business decision to ignore the negative, and people want to know how any responsible company deals with negative complaints. It's best in the public arena of quick opinions, that complaints be handled in a positive manner to build confidence and trust; in other words customer feedback and service must remain a full-time endeavor.
So how should a business deal with customer service issues when the world is reading and opinions are being shared quickly by typing 140 characters? Client satisfaction hasn't changed; it's only the delivery method. As is with the old golden rules of exemplary customer service, everyone in the organization is responsible for customer satisfaction, and the accountability always leans on the upper echelon of a company.
What are the golden rules of knock-down, kick-butt, customer service? Start with the value of employees who by far are any company's best asset. Spend money and time in customer service training using both traditional training methods, intern learning opportunities and experiences, and lots of feedback and positive recognition of employees for jobs well-done. Concentrate on providing customers with quick responses to complaints and negative comments, and welcome feedback. Turning a bad situation into a good situation by providing the customer with the help that is needed turns enemies into advocates and provides a stage for potential new customers in the future.
Luis Franco, director of international business operations at Survey Monkey offers advice on how to approach clients for feedback. He says there are three rules that every organization must keep in mind:
"Don't survey the hell out of people. Keep it simple and short - seven minutes is the maximum survey time - and make sure the question has terminology that is understood by everyone, no acronyms and no sector jargon."
Don't be frightened that customers have a lot more power; look at it as a new opportunity to provide better customer service and as a new opportunity to bring in more business.
photo credit: paulswansen