British people have long been considered a nation of non-complainers. Despite the increase in the number of TV series like Watchdog and Rip off Britain, teaching us about our consumer rights and how to complain, Brits are still stereotyped as having a stiff upper lip in regards to shoddy service.
I think it’s time to put that stereotype to bed as Brits have learned to demand quality service. Shows like Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle have also taught us that it’s okay to air our dirty laundry in public. With social media usage on the rise in the UK and the perception of anonymity, disgruntled customers are learning to air their complaints online.
Social media has become one of the Big Three customer service channels, joining phone and email as the preferred method of contact. Unlike letter writing, customers don’t want to wait 3-10 days for a response to their complaints.
A 2011 study by Edison Research found that customers who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support have high expectations when it comes to response times:
- 32% expect a response within 30 minutes.
- 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.
- 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.
What would these figures look like today? Complaints made publicly online are amplified. Everybody has a ringside seat to the conversation and how you deal with it, can say a lot about your brand.
Setting aside the old adage: “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”, every time your business receives a complaint on Facebook or Twitter; you should consider if it could have been avoided.
There are some people who are motivated to damage a brand’s reputation at every opportunity based on that one time when they received a bad service that was not dealt with satisfactorily. People like this will post bad reviews in forums, troll their target on Facebook and Twitter and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
It’s not just big brands that have to deal with customer complaints online, celebrities get their share too as people start to blur the lines between someone’s profession and the character they play.
The ‘digital by default’ strategy being championed by the government to improve customer services by putting 30% of services online, means that many businesses large and small, can’t ignore social media. And as you move more and more services online you will need to change your systems and workflows to meet the challenges ahead.
Remember, your online customers will not be happy to wait 7 days for a response to a query. You might have to consider online chat and email responses as opposed to letters and telephone conversations?
There are interesting times ahead and customer services will be front and centre of this channel shift.
I expect more and more people will be making enquiries directly on Twitter and Facebook; are you ready for this shift?
What improvements do you think you could be made to meet the increase in online services?