Poor customer service results in long term brand damage

Waterfront restaurantAmerican Express Global Customer Barometer, a survey conducted in ten countries examined the public attitudes and preferences of consumers toward customer service. While Australian customers ranked high as the most vocal when it comes to bad customer service, the results and feelings of consumers are still universal.

Just think about the effects of poor customer service on our own shores and how easily bad news spreads so quickly. That same bad news continues to spread – reminds us when we played telephone as school children – the story grows legs of its own by the time the last child hears the story because the facts have become so distorted. Probably one of the most common examples revolves around customer experiences in restaurants. Diners are reluctant to say much during an evening out with friends, coworkers, or family; after all who wants to ruin their evening complaining about slow service or mediocre food. That restaurant however becomes part of the “blood oath” never to visit again. We might see a Facebook entry or a Tweet, but for the most part, one person tells another person and before long that bad experience causes lasting brand damage.

The unfortunate part of poor customer service is when the consumer doesn’t vocalize their complaint, but no longer returns to that particular establishment. The business owner may be completely unaware of the problems or circumstances that encompassed that bad experience.So what’s the solution?

Businesses need to find more efficient ways to gauge customer service. Interestingly enough, there is a restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens called Blue Water where the chef comes out of the kitchen and stops by each table to inquire about the guests entire dining experience. It only takes a moment; it’s completely unobtrusive, and more like another way to view feedback as a barometer to help this fairly new restaurant raise their customer service standards. If a business owner knows something has gone wrong, he can then figure out ways to correct the mistakes thus providing better customer service experiences for the future.

The American Express Global Customer Barometer reminds us that every interaction counts, and when business owners train and hire quality employees, keep customer service personal, be receptive, be intuitive about their needs through body language and anticipate customer needs, customers react with their loyalty and their business. A consumer who has become a loyal patron of an establishment is more likely to forgive a faux pas and still return – understanding that mistakes can happen. It’s just building that solid foundation that requires a lot of work. Are you up for the challenge?

photo credit: La Citta Vita