When I experience bad customer service from companies, I try to learn from the experience and ask myself: how can I better serve MY clients? It is also a good reminder for me that I wouldn't be in business if it weren't for my loyal clients.
I find it disappointing that large corporations such as Toyota and Alaska Air have forgotten the basics of their customer service. Despite the fact that I shared my unpleasant experiences with their company on their social media, the buck stopped there. Alaska Air sent me a canned email response but it was a sad attempt to make up for the bad customer service I received. You would think they would bend over backwards to keep me as a customer since these companies have to be extra competitive these days. Few people are buying new cars in this economy, and people can choose Alaska's competition.
It's one thing to respond to customer complaints on social media, but companies need to take it one step further to ensure that their customers walk away satisfied and happy. My suggestion to these corporations such as Toyota and Alaska: take your customer service offline and return to the basics.
Have I heard from Toyota since I received their canned "we are sending your complaint to our upper management" response on their social media? No. Have I received a letter directly from Toyota apologizing for the fact the dealer almost ruined my car because they installed the wrong recall part in my car? No. Have I received an apology letter from the local dealer where this happened or was I offered a complimentary oil change from the dealer to make up for what happened? No. If I had received an apology letter or even an offer of a free oil change, I would have a lot more respect for Toyota's commitment to their customers.
Think about this stat and how an unhappy customer could negatively affect your business AND your bottom line:
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in Washington, DC, a dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.
In this tenuous economy, companies cannot afford to lose customers due to negative experiences. As much as I tout the benefits of social media and online reputation management, remember to connect with your customers BEYOND social media. Treat your customers like real human beings and not just a number floating around the cyber ethers! And pick up the phone once in awhile to connect directly with your customers and clients. It's nice to hear a real, live voice -- make sure your customers know that you care!