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PF Weekly Reading List #17-Customer Service, Business Suicide And Social Media

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Customer service and business dealings have changed over the years where many now turn to social media such as Twitter and Facebook to vent frustrations both from a business and customers perspective. From a consumer’s perspective I know it’s likely only going to get worse instead of better, especially for those that feel their voice is much more powerful via social media.

The Good Old Days

There used to be a time where we filled out a “customer satisfaction” card at a restaurant or business, talk to a manager or simply make a phone call but these tactics are not as common any more.

Now you can read the back of your receipt or bill and go on-line to leave and fill out a survey to leave the good, the bad and the ugly comments about the service you received.

Some people go as far as to Tweet a business that is not giving them the service they were  promised or the answers they need in a timely fashion.

If a customer doesn’t receive the service they expected it’s important for business owners to know so they can improve.

Without this information it’s difficult to know what direction to take to make customer service better for the customers.

How far is too far when it comes to getting your point across? Should business owners take social media call outs seriously? I’m going to answer that with a yes.

The Present

It seems like calling out a business is the way to get what you want these days, even if you aren’t in the right. Organizations scramble to save face, deal with issue that might have been overlooked or potentially give in to the individual to sort the matter privately.

Some have to go as far as to post a public statement to respond to these matters.

Maybe it’s a wake up call for an organization that their customer service solutions centre isn’t quite working as well as expected and may need to be monitored more accurately or investigated for further improvements.

I don’t think we are ever going to stop people from using social media as hard as we try.

We’ve created this monster, now we have to live with it. I’m a big fan of Marketplace and even they go as far as to bust businesses and get them to own up to their faults publicly so why not let the customers do the same if it gets their message heard.

The Business vs The Customer

No customers means no money for any business, it’s as simple as that. Where it gets a bit tricky is when business owners start fighting back and calling out their customers.

A Yahoo post I read yesterday cemented my feelings on this topic when a restaurant manager from the Padi restaurant in Delaware apparently took aim at Twitter to call out 3 customers.

He created offensive postings and racist hash tags towards those 3 that left little or no tip.

I talked a bit about tips and restaurants a week or so back and I believe ultimately it’s up to the customer what they want to leave, if anything at all.

Business Suicide

Where I get confused is when someone who pours their money into a business would risk potential customers NOT wanting to do business with them for fear of reprisal via social media.

I know it goes both ways and you are thinking, if the customer can do it why can’t we do the same?

Business owners have everything to lose a customer can go home and go on with their day as if nothing ever happened.

One person who commented on the Yahoo article  posted, “this guy just committed business suicide” an interesting way to look at it, but very well may be true.

The restaurant has since offered an apology to their customers.

“We sincerely apologize for those actions, and want the community to know that those actions and opinions are not consistent   with our beliefs and values, nor are they welcome at our restaurant,” Teoh says in an open letter for customers.

“Those responsible for insulting our customers and members of the community will be held accountable, and that we are taking steps to insure that this type of behaviour never happens again”.

Why did they do this? Well my guess is because they have a vested interest in their business, and it may be their livelihood and it’s the professional thing to do.

When owners sink their life savings into a business or have built credibility up over the years the last thing they want to see happen is the business die on its arse for having a bad rap.

As much as customers want to complain there are always the customers that are happy customers but certainly don’t want to get caught in the cross fire. Tipping is NOT a reason to upset customers either, it’s pointless, move on.

Sure, customers have nothing to lose when they complain but the reason they take to social media in the first place is likely for their money back, better service or an apology etc.

When business owners, team members, management or employees start talking about their current or past customers on a social platform such as Twitter or even Facebook others may slowly turn around and walk the other way.

Customer service to me isn’t great unless, it’s so great you are willing to go the extra mile to let someone know you really appreciate them!- Laurie Linn (CBB Facebook Fan)

Customer Service

My parents owned a business  for years when I was a child and I don’t ever remember them going outside with a billboard (no computers then) saying, “Johnny x didn’t pay his bill” or “Jane x didn’t leave a tip” because customers expect you to protect their privacy as paying or in some cases non-paying customers.

Sure, they had customers that pissed them off, never paid what they owed or simply argued the toss about bills but they also knew that if they wanted to grow they would do whatever it takes to make things right. They didn’t need to be the big bad wolf  in these situations.

If all else fails you put their bill into the credit bureau, let them deal with it professionally and move on. Hatred, is a waste of energy.

They also knew that there are customers that you can’t do enough for them to make them happy.

They certainly didn’t take the bad situations and turn everything upside down as there were far more positive reasons then negative.

If you have 1000 excellent customers and 3 bad customers why risk 1000 customers leaving because you get upset and call  out the 3 bad customers.

Certainly the masses here outweigh the negative which any business owner should be able to handle professionally if they are a leader in their game.

Maybe customer service response cards are a thing of the past for some organizations and are now left to deal with social media, customer service and the present.

Are business owners committing business suicide by calling out their past or present customers via social media or other public means?

As a customer what do you expect from businesses and would you call them out via social medi

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