John was rushing to catch his flight leaving Florida one day. He unknowingly left his laptop charger in his hotel room, only realising it when he got home. He planned to call the hotel when he got back into his office, but before he could, John received an express air package from that hotel. In it was his charger, complete with a note saying, ‘Mr.DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and, just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop’. This, ladies and gentlemen, is great customer service.
The hotel? The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in Florida. And this was a true story experienced by customer service expert John DiJulius. The Ritz is phenomenally famous for their staff going above and beyond to achieve customer satisfaction. But they are a hospitality business, isn’t customer service an integral part of their operations?
Truth is, all brands need to have a certain standard of customer service. Indeed, five-star luxury hotels should serve their patrons a little more than satisfactorily. But that doesn’t mean other brands that are not in the industry should take their customer service lightly. Customer service plays an important role in any nature of the business. This includes business-to-business (B2B) brands, where customer retention relies a lot on the quality of customer service and support given.
So what’s the relationship between customer service and brand performance? How can customer service shape your brand and business?
True, we all make mistakes and sometimes there are slip-ups with faulty products, really bad food, late deliveries or miscommunication. An effective customer service can help minimise the damage by correcting and solving the issue, communicating to the customer that the brand cares about them.
In some websites like Facebook and Tripadvisor, customers can rate and write their recommendations or ask questions about the business. A lot of times they’ll write it out in the comment section. Ideally, you want only happy customers writing praises about your business. In reality, there will be some negative comments. But that’s great! Now’s the time to show how much you care about your customers and genuinely want to help them resolve an issue.
The social media space is an open stage where everyone observes your every response. However, with the right manoeuvers, you can capitalise on your social engagement and create a loyal fan base who might even spend 40% more than other customers on your brand. The key is being responsive so don’t leave a comment, good or bad, unresponded.
Oxwhite’s Facebook comments are filled with customer inquiries and feedback. As an online startup, Oxwhite has to make sure their customer service is top-notch to counter the challenges of being an online only brand.
Should they ignore the complaints, they are just pushing these existing customers away and won’t improve to stay competitive. Instead, companies should welcome customer suggestions and feedback because that’s where they know what they’re good at, and where they can be better.
Great customer service is also easier and cheaper than fixing a bad brand reputation. Take the infamous example of United Airlines last year. When someone posted a video online about a passenger being literally dragged out of a United Airlines cabin, the American airline flew into a PR nightmare. The company suffered near USD 1 billion loss in brand value, a plunge in stocks and a whole lot of angry comments and tweets from the internet.
Customer service helps clean-up your brand image and reputation, gives insights about what your target audience wants, and saves cost. Knowing these benefits, some companies treated their customer service department highly. At times, you won’t find a Customer Service Officer, but there’s a Customer Success Officer or by other names such as Customer Experience, Customer Delight and so on. The aim is the same; to make customers satisfied and keep them coming back for more.
Let’s check, how is your brand’s customer service performing? Are you taking care of your customers as seriously as The Ritz?