The saying “you get only one chance to make a first impression” has never been truer. In an age where information flows quickly and freely customer service must be a reason prospects buy from you and customers return to you. Investing in a positive, memorable customer experience creates a strategic advantage. Here are two reasons why this is true:
- Options – Think about the last time you booked travel. How much do you care whether you fly American or United? If you exclude frequent-flyer programs (which with all the blackout periods ought to be renamed frequently disappointed programs) prices are generally the same, peanuts still come in 0.25 ounce containers, and our surprise is still genuine if our luggage shows up on the baggage carousel. Airlines have achieved commodity status, consumers have options, and the cost to switch is low.
- Transparency – Consumers are able to research experiential information with a few mouse clicks. Social media magnifies customer service blemishes yet also amplifies outstanding service. Social media and the blogosphere make information (the good, the bad, and the ugly) instantly available. Nielsen studies show that 90% of consumers trust each other’s recommendations and 70% trust online recommendations.
Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly is seen as a huge risk precisely because it may lure customers to other options. But those who worry that “negative comments may cost us business” miss the point. Poor products with dismal service lose business. The choice is whether your company is committed to creating a winning product that customers love and bask in their accolades or hide from faults and slowly lose your customers.
The pivot point is to start with a quality product and continue the experience with transparent customer service. When you do, transparency becomes a game-changer because companies that make and fix honest mistakes get more than one strike. Play ball!