The 10,000 Watt Spotlight on Customer (Dis)Satisfaction

The results of an interesting survey have just been released that provide some strong support for a diligent and consistent commitment to customer service. The survey is one of the first we have read showing the impact customer service has in terms of shaping a company’s online reputation.

It is worth reading the text of the full slide presentation to synthesize the full scope of the survey results. The company behind the survey is called RightNow, who describe themselves as ‘a provider of on demand customer service experience solutions’. Despite the intentions behind the survey, RightNow did team up with market opinion giant Harris Interactive to conduct the survey, so there is definitely merit in their findings.

For us, 3 findings jumped out:

  1. 95% of respondents to the survey have taken action over a negative customer experience, and 79% told others about it.
  2. 66% cited customer service as the biggest driver to encourage greater spending
  3. While 82% of respondents said they would not do business with a company after receiving bad customer service, 92% said they would consider returning if they were offered something to make amends.

With the ability to praise or criticize just a few clicks away, today’s consumers wield significant power to influence a brand. This is often cited as a reason why small businesses do not want to venture into the world of social media – they fear having negative comments associated with their company’s online presence. Yet this is precisely the reason why small companies should be implementing some form of social media strategy, as there has never been an easier or more powerful way to engage your customers.

At the Connecting with Customers Online forum we participated in last month, a small business owner asked why he should be concerned with connecting with customers online. He said he was doing just fine finding customers through traditional media, such as Yellow Pages ads and bulk mailers. The response from the panel was simple: your customer are already online talking about you, whether you are aware of it or not.

Having a forum to communicate with clients, whether it be through a blog, a Facebook fanpage, or via Twitter, allows small businesses to have rich dialogs not just with individuals, but with whole groups of customers. The number of customers who are comfortable using new technology is growing daily. These customers not only learn about products and services, but interact with them as well. They expect brands and companies to have an online presence, and have even higher expectations with regards to using the Internet to correspond with them.

By not paying attention to these customers, a small business risks losing not just potential business, but also the reputation-building mechanism these customers create. And if this mechanism isn’t working for you, it is surely working for your competitors. There is no better example of this than Homestars, which is a review site for homeowner services such as plumbers, electricians, eves-trough installers, etc.. The companies providing the best service rise to the top on the backs of positive customer reviews. Because the community around Homestars is so active, more people are using the site to find reliable vendors, which then spurs more reviews, which draws even more users to the site. The power of this community is why we recommend every contractor and tradesperson we deal with to start with a Homestars listing and start building their online reputation.

Not a contractor? There are many other ways to start getting comfortable with online customer engagement. The important thing to keep in mind is that building your brand online is about the discipline, not the tool. It doesn’t matter if you tweet, post, or flickr – it is the activity of reaching out and engaging that is most important. Start with one tool and get comfortable with it. Broadcast your blog or fanpage to as many people as possible and start developing a community around your brand. Even just 10 minutes a day is enough to start the ball rolling.

Don’t have 10 minutes a day? Worried that your online commitments will get in the way of your offline commitments? Talk to us to learn how tinybriefcase can help. We have a number of highly cost-effective ways to help small businesses engage their customers online.

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