I was reminded of this yesterday, when I was at the post office.
I arrived only 15 minutes before the post office closed with enough items to ship that it required two trips to the customer service counter.
The lady who was in front of me during my first trip to the customer service counter was clearly angry. However, she wasn’t angry at the people working behind the counter.
She was actually angry at the company that she had purchased an item from.
I didn’t hear all of the conversation that she had with the postal worker, but what I did hear her say was that she was having a hard time trying to return the item, and that only after she talked to someone in the company’s marketing department did they give her permission to send the item back.
My guess is that the person in the marketing department who gave her the permission to send the item back was worried about the brand’s reputation and the effect that this transaction could have if she let others know about the bad customer service that she had received from other parts of the company.
In the age of social media, every time a person has a bad experience with a company creates an opportunity for a public relations disaster.
At a minimum, if an angry customer lets others in his or her network know about the bad customer service that he or she received, there is a chance that the people hearing about the incident will think twice before using that company the next time they are looking for a similar product or service.
If enough people have bad experiences and let others know about it on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or any other site where people can voice their opinions online, there is no doubt that it is going to be noticed in the future when potential customers are doing product research online.
And, if the person receiving the bad customer service is a celebrity, it can really create a headache for the brand’s marketing and public relations teams. Just ask United.
Today, word of mouth has a greater significance thanks to social networking sites, review sites, and search engines like Google or Bing. Therefore, providing great customer service is more important than ever.
As the tagline of my blog states, “Every interaction with a consumer IS marketing.”
On a side note, because I got to the post office so late, I just got my second set of boxes to the counter as they were closing. The postal worker stayed a little late on a Friday night in order to get my boxes delivered on time without any grumbling or complaining at all. For that, I thank them.
This, by the way, is the upside of word of mouth. That is, when you provide great customer service, many of your customers will let their friends and family know about that, too.
Photo credit: truds09 on Flickr.