04 Sep 2017

Are we hanging up the phone when it comes to customer care?

My least favourite things on this planet are stinging nettles, wasps and decaff coffee. But if there’s one thing that I detest more than all these things combined – it’s making that call to that customer care number.

I find the whole process utterly gruelling.

From having to focus on listening to the menu, enduring the (often) questionable on-hold-jingle to then screaming at a patronising, automated voice that assures me they have no records that relate to my account. Exhausting.

However, if I tweet that same company or post a comment on their Facebook, I’ll get a response almost immediately. This will be a reply apologising, then asking how said company can resolve the issue (and more often than not, my comment will attract likes and support from fellow customers that have experienced the same thing)

In an age where we can get in touch with Aunt Susan in Australia or skype a fellow colleague on the other side of the world in a matter or milliseconds, why can it take a lifetime to get through to a human on the other end of a phone?

My point is, we live in an era where we’re digitally defined; where the humble telephone – a once loved and “reliable” point of call is now loathed by many and seen as a neglected form of communication with business.

But does this mean we’re out of touch with our consumer attitude?

Absolutely not.

With the influx of social media and its power to us as consumers, there’s been a digital business revolution and a shift to us living our life online and indeed through social media.

Whether we’re reading international headlines, liking Aunt Susan’s most recent profile picture to asking your Facebook friends which restaurant serves the best Sunday lunch. It seems these days that one classes a “reputable recommendation” via social media.

I know I often pre-empt my visits to eateries with judgements based on what I’ve read on Facebook. We live in a time where business have never been more exposed and vulnerable to constructive or destructive criticism. With popular blackmailed promises and borderline threats of “I’ll give you a bad review on Facebook/trip advisor/*insert relevant platform*”

Accordig to Lithium, 78% of people who complain to a brand through twitter expect a response within an hour. Furthermore, when companies don't meet this respnse rate, 38% feel more negative about the brand and 60% will take "upleasent acions" to express their dissatisfaction.

Is this new form of passive aggression between customer and business a new wave of motivation for businesses to take on board customer feedback and generate better business? Are we living in time where “customer care” has shifted toward the customer caring for the business?

But all is not lost when it comes to the big bad world of social media and those callous customers.

In that same study, research showed that when brands provide customers with quick responses 34% are likely to buy more from that company. 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products, 38% are more receptive to their advertisements and 42% are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media.

Meaning there are loads of brownie points to be gained through your social media presence and it is very much a two-way street.

So, what does this mean for your business?

This social media revolution has created a wonderful, inexpensive marketing and reputational opportunity, in which businesses can reach out to an international target audience whilst continually building brand awareness – and that’s merely through communicating with your customers!

Like anything, the more time and effort you invest- the better the end result.

Phoebe Kirk-Fraiser

Digital Consultant at The iCentric Agency

E: phoebe@icentric.co.uk

P: 01234 292223