Create brand loyalty from kick-ass customer service


[standfirst]Last Friday, on Valentine’s Day, we’d just enjoyed an awesome Marks and Spencer’s dine in meal-deal-thingy. It was awesome. Scallops, beef wellington, chocolate soufflé, red wine – all the things my foodie brain dreams of. And all from the comfort of my sofa. Ah. Glorious.[/standfirst]

This particular deal came with a box of heart shaped chocolates. Cutely packaged, the perfect 9.30pm end to a gluttonous evening.

Only… ours tasted weird. They had some strange chemical taste to them, sort of like when you get deodorant in your mouth (I don’t do this often… well, it’s one of the main reasons I switched to roll on).

I tweeted about it, as you do. It hadn’t ruined our evening or meal, nothing like that, but it was a bit disappointing.

10 minutes later I was tweeted back by Marks and Spencer. At 9.40pm on a Friday they had someone manning their social media, replying to disgruntled tweeters and holding up their customer service excellence. They arranged to call me the next day and investigate further (which they did).

The very fact that they actually responded to my (not even directly accusatory) tweet has kicked my brand loyalty up a notch. We’re so used to being actively ignored by big corporations, we’ve all seen the social media horror stories of the past. This was refreshing, and such a simple act – and a fair few people on my twitter timeline noticed it & complimented M&S on their response.

So what are the take aways?

  • Open up the lines of communication – never leave a customer hanging. If they have an issue, respond.
  • And respond politely. I’m not saying I buy into that old adage of the customer always being right (let’s face it, they’re not), but damn, everyone deserves good manners. As an aside, since running my own businesses I always treat customer service staff with respect and try my hardest not to get frustrated. I understand just how far a smile and a “thank you” will go in their day, and how much more willing they’ll be to help resolve the situation.
  • Be timely. Don’t wait days to resolve the situation, resolve it as quickly as possible. I know that most people running smaller businesses can’t afford to have a customer service rep on-call 24/7, but make it your first priority when you get in the office.
  • Be honest. Did something go wrong? Explain this to the customer, and explain what you’re doing to resolve it & make sure it doesn’t happen again. People appreciate honesty*.
  • Be genuine. Don’t be automated. No one likes a robot, they want to feel that someone genuinely cares about their issue. And if you have any respect for your customers and your business, then you should genuinely care.

Now that we’re well and truly in the realms of social media driven customer service, staying on top of your customer’s issues is a top priority. A few tweets and Facebook shares could make or break your business, which way would you rather go?

What are your top tips for customer service? Have you seen any amazing examples of customer service? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below and share your experiences!

*Well, most people. You’ll still get the odd screamer – don’t let them ruin your day.

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    • I agree! It’s a cliché but when something goes wrong it can be a great opportunity to do a little bit extra and really impress a client. Great post Kim!

  • My business it built purely on recommendations and therefore customer service and creating a special experience for each and every customer for me is key. A phrase remind myself of everyday is “If you always do what you’ve always done; you’ll always get what you’ve always got”
    I recently dealt with a customer who had tried to book a holiday herself via the call centre of a rather large travel company. Having not heard back from them after 2 phone calls and 2 e-mails she contacted me, disappointed in the service she has received. I kept in constant contact with the customer and by providing exceptional service managed to book her and her family their dream holiday.
    Great customer service always wins I say!

  • I totally agree, a concerned, polite & timely response to a problem can actually increase customer confidence more than if there’d been no problem at all! We all like to feel valued & this is a vital part of valuing the customer! :)

  • I was surprised by tesco recently. I ordered an Ipod that to collect at my local store, and it didn’t arrive on the day it was supposed to. Anyway I got through straight away to customer service who then refunded me £20 as a courtesy. I mean, wow. I didn’t even ask! Glad the bigger brands are still investing in customer service. I was expecting to be on hold for hours and certainly not be recompensed.

  • Totally agree. I do find that small businesses tend to understand the importance of customer service more. Bigger chains don’t care as much as you are one of thousands/millions of customers. I submitted a complaint to IKEA about 2 months ago and I have yet to receive a response.

  • This is so true – I really think that you find out most about a brand or company when something goes wrong. My boyf recently ordered some trainers from Adidas – when they didn’t arrive after 6 weeks he called them, and as soon as they typed his order number into their system and saw how long it had been they gave him a full refund (and told him to still keep the trainers when they arrived!) He didn’t even have chance to tell them why he had phoned before they did this! Brilliant service, and guess what, he has already bought from them again.