Dissatisfied customers and poor customer service can absolutely destroy your business. So, don’t make them angry, right? Well if only it were that simple…
Since we’re in the contact center industry, we know firsthand how difficult it is to maintain a consistent customer service team. One system that never falters is where everyone is satisfied with their jobs and do not, personal or otherwise, treat customers poorly; consistent job satisfaction equals consistent customer satisfaction.
That’s perfection and it doesn’t happen. Bad days happen, even or maybe, especially in customer service.
So, we’re going to check out what the worst that could happen is when a business has bad customer service. Let’s go step by step.
Customer satisfaction began to decline in late 2018, even before the COVID-19 outbreak began. Overall customer happiness, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®), continues to decline. It has now fallen in nine of the last ten quarters, bringing ACSI to its lowest level in 15 years (73.6 out of 100)
1. Online Reviews Will Start Pouring In
Let’s start at the beginning – say you’ve switched telecom providers and your customer service lines start disconnecting. There’s static and the agents are getting frustrated and becoming unable to de-escalate calls due to technical problems.
It’s bad customer service experience at its inception. A few unsatisfied customers start writing their reviews online. Now, if you’re an online business, this will affect you way more – especially if you’re B2C and in retail.
Soon enough, tens -maybe even hundreds- of negative reviews will pour in. Remember, people are much more likely to leave negative reviews.
Also, when making a purchase in the digital age, the customer has access to all of the relevant information. Connected platforms have transformed the way people purchase. Buyers can also find many links, consumer feedback, and other sources on the Internet and they will select the products or service they want based on consumers feedback. Many people no longer seek the opinion of experts because they have been told beforehand. As a result, online reviews are increasingly viewed as personal recommendations.
2. Leads Will Stop Converting
It’s the first sign of a downward spiral. Once your sales agents start talking to people who’ve already heard of the bad reviews, there’s only so much damage control you can do. It guarantees fewer conversions and it can get even worse as you move on. Agents, both customer service and sales, will immediately begin to show dissatisfaction.
The performance of sales agents, at a moment when you need it to be at an all-time high, will go down. And they will leave. Poor reviews are part of a bad online presence. And bad online presence is a key factor as to why leads don’t convert.
3. Increased Prices Will Drive Away Customers
Because of all the uncertainty in your business, you might be forced to make even more sacrifices in an effort to save the company. Because of the decreased number of sales, you might need to increase costs in order to handle upkeep, keep paying salaries, and maintain current customers.
Yet clients who’ve already had poor experiences with your customer service agents are basically one foot out the door at this point. So, all you’re doing by increasing prices is kicking them in the rear on their way out.
It’s no wonder Forbes announced that $75 billion in losses to businesses are exclusively due to bad customer service. So you need to show your customers how much you appreciate them, not just their business.
4. Word of Mouth Will Increase Online Backlash
Just like an amplifier, online backlash is loud and sometimes uncontrollable. People will tell their friends about a bad experience they had, about a review they read, or worse – they’ll share that bad review.
Bad reviews don’t just come in text form of course! These can be videos, songs, and a whole bunch of other creative forms that can damage your business exponentially!
On average, millennials are much more likely to share bad experiences than good experiences. And since the bulk of the capital nowadays is veering towards millennials, it’s where all the power lies and you should be wary of sparking their ire.
5. Permanent Reputation Damage
Let’s assume everyone hates you now – congratulations! You’ve successfully become the worst. Imagine: you keep going despite the misgivings of your current trajectory.
It’s simply too late to change course now, and as the faithful Titanic, you will mostly be remembered for your failures.
Jokes aside, even if you manage a miraculous redress, your company history will forever feature the bad customer reviews. This affects new customers, new hires, employee satisfaction and retention, the quality of future products, and the performance of your agents.
6. The Viral Reviews
Now we’re going into business-breaking territory. Viral reviews are a thing you must always be mindful of. While true that any sort of publicity is good publicity, the negative potential of viral bad reviews can far outweigh that of the publicity stunt.
Now if you’re a daredevil with business acumen, aiming to toe the line between the two, good luck. But if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll want to reconsider your whole brand strategy once you get a bad viral review.
However, with a good customer service team, you can always convert negative reviews into a marketing win. You just need to address the elephant in the room head-on.
7. Reliable Returns Will Start to Dwindle
Loyal customers will have a greater incentive to leave. It’s happened to me and I like to think I’m a business-minded person. Once the reputation of a company is going down, I’m very likely to stop supporting it.
No matter how much I’ve been a fan of the product in the past, the constant negative comments that come from all corners will make one change their loyalties. If everyone’s convincing you you’re wrong to support something, you’re not going to keep on doing it forever, right?
8. Stains on Company History that Will Never Go Away
Bad reviews that go viral act like negative milestones in a company’s history for the average uninformed customer. Think how many people know when United merged with Continental versus how many people know about that United incident when a passenger was dragged off against his will.
This type of bad customer service will always stay with a company, no matter how many people forgive, nobody will ever forget.
9. Company Stocks and Value Will Freefall
Yes, a giant corporation like United, EA, or Disney can survive giant backlashes from poor customer service and that’s possibly exactly why they know they can afford it.
But can you afford it? When was the last time you had a business with $193 billion in total assets?
Just as I thought. The smart businessperson will always know the negative value of a bad review and must be one step ahead. Contingency plans are not a bad idea either if you’re getting to a point where it’s difficult to control just how big your business is.
10. Your Bad Customer Service Will Become More Famous than Your Product
We’re getting close to the absolute worst that can happen to your business if you have bad customer service. The simple truth is that once you cross over to the dark side, your brand will become universally equated with the incident. This is almost the case for United.
At this point, all you can do is try and do as much damage control as possible. It will be a long time until you manage to get back up and running.
The bigger the company, the easier it will be for you to redress. Take Disney – something like the backlash for The Last Jedi could’ve ended a smaller business. But the sheer number of Disney IPs means they have fallback positions that give them time to stop, analyze their failure, and reorganize.
If you’ve managed to tick all the boxes up until now, you’re in for the worst that can happen. You lose all your business, your clients leave you, and you have no choice but to declare bankruptcy.
Let’s See What We’ve Learned
In order to have good customer service you need to be:
- On-time. Address your customer’s needs before they start to fester and transform into negative reviews.
- Out there. Be present when people are saying bad things about you online. Own the mistakes and offer free compensation.
- Honest. Don’t pretend you haven’t screwed up when the consensus is that you did. It is not a good look, even if you might be right, you’re just making things worse.
- Empathetic. Train your customer service agents on how to understand the concerns and issues of your customers.
- Humble. Lastly, and this one ties in with the others, never try to prove you’re smarter than your client or presume your client doesn’t understand what you’re saying. It’s insulting, especially when you’re talking directly over the phone.
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