Under any normal circumstances, a stellar customer service experience is something most businesses strive for. Throw a global pandemic like COVID-19 into the mix, and suddenly, all sense of normalcy flies out the window. Pandemics and catastrophes aside, businesses that can provide exceptional service no matter what the circumstance are more likely to succeed against competitors. And from a customer’s perspective, I’m going to tell you why.
At some point during the Great (not so much) Lockdown of 2020, I decided to adopt a dog. Of course, I went bananas shopping for her online. Toys? Check. Treats? Check check. However, when I ordered a new collar that was too big, I had to contact the business’s customer service department to process the exchange. As this was my first time shopping from this particular retailer, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be on hold until the pandemic ended? Should I get something to snack on while I wait?
Before I could make a decision, I was being greeted by a warm, bubbly voice. Doloris was both professional and friendly, and she transformed a standard, run-of-the-mill interaction into an enjoyable customer service experience that felt like a breath of fresh air. In the midst of processing the return, she asked me about my pup, and she told me about her four-legged friend. We talked about the current pandemic and how we were both holding up, which helped personalize our interaction. She wasn’t just some voice on the other end of the line – she was an actual human who was experiencing many of the same challenges I was facing, such as adjusting to working from home and not being able to find any toilet paper.
By the end of the call, a new collar was on its way to me. I was told to donate the original if I didn’t want to ship it back (so awesome!), and I was smiling and laughing as if I were speaking with an old friend. That’s what I’d call an amazing first impression.
After I hung up the phone, I felt like I needed to tell everyone about my great experience. As someone who has worked in the customer service industry for years, I know how important positive feedback is. And research shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to use a business that has positive reviews. So, I went to social media to tweet at the company, insisting that Doloris be given a raise immediately! Most importantly, my review wasn’t incentivized, meaning that the retailer didn’t ask for my opinion in exchange for cash or freebies, which is a definite online review snafu, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Now, I am just one person whose opinion may not seem to influence much. But did you know that businesses with nine or more reviews posted within the last 90 days earn 52% more revenue than the average business? Every review really does count! And small businesses thrive off of a strong digital footprint.
There’s no question that online reviews impact sales. But even more personal and perhaps more valuable is word-of-mouth marketing. As any basic business model can tell you, an increase in referrals means an increase in prospective customers. In fact, referrals are so important that many companies often develop referral programs for existing customers who bring in new business. For example, a property manager might knock a few hundred bucks off a tenant’s rent whose referral resulted in a signed lease. Or a burgeoning hair salon might reward a referral with a discount to both the existing customer and the new customer.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, trusted referrals are the Holy Grail of advertising. So, how does a business get customers to refer them to their friends and family? They provide a flawless customer service experience. And how do they do that? By offering these three things:
Times are tough right now for small businesses everywhere. If your small business needs an extra hand with customer communication, sign up for our 2-week free trial to see what SAS can do for you.