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While good businesses chase leads and secure sales, great businesses give precedence to customer service. After all, it is what a lot of customers will remember you for and can reflect both positively and negatively on the business. On top of that, a word-of-mouth review, be it good or bad, can heavily influence a persons purchasing decision.
In recent years, an increasing number of companies are choosing to favour digital lines of communication for customer service. If you have a question or problem and want to speak to a representative, you will probably have more success using live chat or social media. In fact, 74 per cent of customers believe that if they take to social media to complain, this will lead to better service.
So, how are household brands tackling customer service these days? Well, here are 5 unforgettable examples, which you can learn an awful lot from.
1. Domino’s Pizza
Back in 2009, Domino’s Pizza tied for last place with children’s restaurant Chuck E. Cheese in a consumer taste preference survey conducted by Brand Keys. Lots of consumers said its pizza crusts tasted like cardboard, while others felt the sauce had no flavour.
Although hurt by this criticism, the world’s famous pizza chain decided to do something about it. Instead of adding more seasoning, Domino’s completely changed its recipe, encouraged consumers as well as food bloggers to try the new pizzas for themselves, and asked for feedback on social media.
“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energise your process of making a better pizza. We did the latter.”
CEO Patrick Doyle explained in a documentary Domino’s created to demonstrate its commitment to customer service.
Key takeaway – Listen to your customers, let them know that you have been listening, and then do something about it. Secondly, be transparent and honest.
2. United Airlines
When Kerry Drake learnt that he could miss his connecting flight from San Francisco to Lubbock in Texas, he burst into tears. He was travelling to say goodbye to his mother, who was on her deathbed.
Not only did the flight crew wait to depart so Drake could make it, the captain also radioed ahead to the gate agent and ground grew to ensure his luggage arrived on time. He made it to the hospital to see his mother, who then died that morning.
Screenshot source: CNN
After writing to United Airlines to thank them for their service, Drake’s story was featured in an employee newsletter to underline the importance of customer service. “Our employees really worked together that day to help this customer,” said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.
Key takeaway – Always go the extra mile, which often involves working together as a team.
Despite the fact a Starbucks customer called Jason owned the coffee chain’s Gold Card, which entitles you to 10 per cent off each visit, he was surprised to hear that an outlet could not give him a discount because they were a franchise location, not a corporate-owned store.
“No problem,” Jason said. “Just refund my money and keep your drink then.” However, staff refused as they had already started making the drink, which prompted Jason to call the Starbucks customer service line with a polite suggestion to post a sign in stores that don’t offer a discount.
But Starbucks’ response of a $50 gift voucher astonished Jason.
“My goal was to spend five minutes on the phone with them and make them understand the need to let customers know what to expect in non-corp stores,” he said. “Instead, they pulled out all the stops and went way beyond what they needed to.”
Key takeaway – Exceed your customers’ expectations, especially in situations where you have let them down.
After posting a puntastic joke on Twitter that read, “I tried to buy some battered fish from @sainsburys but it didn’t have a bar cod,” Marty Lawrence was probably hoping for a few retweets and likes at best.
However, the member of staff tasked with managing the supermarket’s social media account that day decided to reply with an equally cringe-worthy “Were there no other packs in the plaice, or was that the sole one on the shelf? Floundering for an explanation!”
What followed was a conversation of 17 tweets, each one featuring amusing yet awful fish-based wordplay.
It might not have been a question or complaint, but Sainsbury’s received a great deal of media attention thanks to one employee who decided to reply just for the halibut.
Key takeaway – On social media, don’t be afraid to have a little fun when the opportunity presents itself. Customers like to see a personality behind corporate brands.
As you can expect, not all brands get in right when it comes to customer service, as Chris Williams found out the hard way when trying to speak with a support worker via Amazon’s live chat facility.
All Williams wanted was for Amazon to block a “phishing” email address, as it appeared to be associated with his real address. However, the Amazon worker on the other end struggled to understand English (Business Insider found support staff are based in India) and could not resolve Williams’ issue.
Williams spent nearly an hour talking to Amazon employee ‘Farah’ and even posted the entire chat transcript online to highlight the retail giant’s incompetence.
Here’s a couple of highlights…
farah: May I know the account holder please..
Me: Account holder is Chris Williams
farah: your first and last name plese
Me: First = Chris
Last = Williams
farah: okay let me check this out for you okay?
Me: OK.. CAN YOU PLEASE CONNECT ME WITH AN ACCOUNT SPECIALIST.
farah: I am really Sorry for this..yes sure I will..
I am really Sorry for this..yes sure I will..
I will ask first an apology for this please..I am so sorry Brittni..let me connect you now to our account specialist okay?
Me: CHRIS MY NAME IS CHRIS I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT AT LEAST 6 TIMES.
CONNECT ME TO SOMEONE ELSE NOW
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE TO YOU.
ARE YOU TRANSFERRING ME OR NOT?
farah: May I have your phone number please?
Me: I AM POSTING THIS CONVERSATION ONLINE. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED.
Key takeaway – Ensure members of staff have received the right training and can confidently speak the language of your customers.
From these examples, it is clear to see that you cannot underestimate the importance of good customer service. While some acts of employee empathy and understanding happen in real life, the power of social media and live chat can spread both good and bad opinions of your business like wildfire.
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