Customer service is incredibly vital to a business’ success, and even more so today in our ever-transparent world. 61% of American believe that, in today’s economic environment, customer service is more important to them and will spend more money on a company that provides better customer service (from the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer). Word of mouth is an age-old, tried and true method of pushing repeat business. With blogs, user-generated reviews, Facebook comments, Twitter commentary, etc. word of mouth has taken on a life of its own. Bad brand awareness (BP come to mind?) can spread like wildfire, but so can good brand awareness (aka Starbucks Free Pastry Day).
What’s interesting is that Facebook, in a study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, ranked in the bottom 5% of all private sector companies in consumer satisfaction (alongside the IRS, which doesn’t really come as a surprise). So how does a site that’s so immensely popular score so low on the customer satisfaction spectrum? I think the answer is pretty simple; there’s no real alternative to using Facebook, so we’re all kind of stuck with it. The biggest gripes I’ve heard about Facebook are its ever-changing technology (news feeds, designs, layouts, etc.) and the convoluted privacy settings. As soon as people are just getting comfortable with Facebook, they go and change it. Not to say that change isn’t good, but you don’t see other sites creating new versions nearly as often as Facebook does. Upgrades should be planned, thought out, and spaced out. There is nothing more important than the user experience online, and these constant “upgrades” are disruptive to that experience.
From a personal standpoint, I fall squarely into the results of American Express’ study. For example, I recently bought an iphone screen protector from a third party vendor through Amazon. The order came with one less screen protector than I had ordered. I emailed customer service and my missing screen protector was sent out the next day. I usually do not order through third party vendors on Amazon, but now, I will consider it again, having had a good experience with this particular vendor.
An example of bad customer service is when I bought a pair of Uggs for my mom and myself (please stop laughing at me, it was her idea). After having purchased the boots and having my card charged, two weeks went by with no boots, no email, nothing. After attempting to reach the vendor numerous times to no avail, I finally escalated the issue through PayPal’s claims service. After that, the vendor immediately responded and asked if I could close the claim (because it would show up negatively on their vendor status on PayPal), but made no move to ship me my shoes. I requested an immediate refund. After another 2 weeks of back and forth emails, the vendor finally acquiesced and refunded the order. I will never shop with this vendor again because the vendor-customer trust was broken when the vendor failed to deliver the order successfully.
Moral of the story? Word of mouth counts more than anything. Do your research before buying anything online, and someone dream up an alternative to Facebook.