In an increasingly globalized economy, the customer experience is often the only thing separating you from your competition. Bad customer service has become more damning than ever. One poor experience can have a butterfly effect-like impact on your entire organization. A bad experience can lead to a bad review which evolves into a bad reputation. Indeed, the outcome of a single bad customer experience can spiral into the worst case scenario.
But things aren’t all doom and gloom. Even the very worst examples of poor customer service can be corrected without doing significant damage to your brand. Assuming you take action as quickly as possible, there’s still time to course correct and combat the damaging effects of terrible customer service. Knowledge truly is power, and by educating yourself on the impact of bad customer service, you empower your business to do better.
What Defines Poor Customer Experiences?
We’ve all experienced poor customer service at one point or another. Something as minor as a long line or long hold time can leave a bad taste in a person’s mouth, making them think twice about whether or not to use your services again in the future. Other bad customer experiences are more obvious: lost deliveries, rude customer service agents, and poor attention to detail can all sour a customer’s perspective on your organization.
The reality is that what seems fine for one customer just might ruin the next person’s entire week. That’s why it’s imperative to deliver consistent, high quality service for every single customer you assist. While it might seem like a tall order, finding outsourced partners like a virtual receptionist service can help you deliver on expectations every time.
What are the Biggest Impacts of Bad Customer Service?
Understanding the impact of bad customer service can help you and your team combat the most common forms. By fully comprehending what’s at stake, you naturally create buy-in for the entire team. Whether you share this piece with your colleagues or just discuss best practices, it’s important that everyone understand the significant ramifications that come with even a single negative customer interaction. The consequences may include:
A Hit to Your Reputation
Reputation is everything. Losing control of it can have incredibly harmful, far-reaching effects. Unfortunately, thanks to the proliferation of online reviews, your reputation is often the first thing to take a hit following a poor customer service experience. People are more eager than ever to share their negative opinions online, especially when they feel they’ve been wronged by a business. Beyond critical reviews, they may also share their experience with friends, family, and colleagues. This can lead to a serious hit to your business and a major decrease in the word of mouth marketing you may have been hoping to foster.
Decreased Customer Loyalty
Retaining customers is more cost-effective than attracting new ones. In the face of bad customer service, though, even your most loyal customers may find themselves exploring alternatives. A single positive experience with your competition may spur customers to make the switch permanently – especially in the face of increasingly bad reviews. Even if a customer has never had a poor experience themselves, word gets around. People value consistency, and if there’s even a slight chance that they may have a less than stellar experience, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Higher Customer Churn Rate
Losing more customers than you’re bringing in is a dangerous game to play. It’s a frequent side effect of high levels of dissatisfaction. Whether your products or poor customer satisfaction are at fault, the result is the same: a high churn rate that proves your business is unsustainable for the long haul. Of course, a high churn rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Let it be your canary in the coal mine of bad customer experiences. Only by recognizing the issues at hand can you begin addressing them and make meaningful changes.
Other Potential Consequences of Poor Customer Service
Now that you understand many of the consequences of terrible customer service, allow us to zoom out and look at other secondary outcomes. While these are certainly not guaranteed repercussions, they’re incredibly common and worth watching out for. A failure to address customer concerns and nip problems in the bud may lead to:
Loss of Quality Employees
Unhappy customers lead to unhappy employees. When a person has to spend every shift compensating for bad products or poor customer service offered by their colleagues, burnout becomes inevitable. A good employee is one who empathizes with customers and does whatever they can to correct mistakes. Going above and beyond, all day, everyday is sure to take its toll sooner or later. It’s a fast way to build dissatisfaction in the people you trust most. Should your business develop a bad reputation for service, employees may be able to sense which way the wind is blowing and jump ship for other opportunities.
Getting Stuck in a Profit-Sucking Cycle
When your reputation takes a hit, you’ll probably notice that you’re starting to lose both new and faithful customers alike. At such a point, you’ll be forced to make some tough decisions. Will you reduce costs to compensate for a decrease in sales? Or will you double down on marketing to new customers? Cutting costs might seem like an obvious choice, but you’ll still need to work on improving your poor customer service. Training and recruitment requires additional resources. If you’re not careful you could find yourself in a profit-sucking cycle with seemingly no way out.
The Solution to Bad Customer Service
No business sets out to deliver bad customer experiences. The process of losing customers is often enough to shake up business owners and help them come to their senses. The simple fact is that the customer is always right. By understanding this key principle of customer service, you can begin rebuilding your customer experiences from the ground up.
Making over your customer service procedures often boils down to reflection. Do you and your colleagues know what you’re doing? Are you communicating effectively? How responsive are you to customer inquiries? The answers to these questions can shed light on potential issues and allow you to begin shaping new policies. As you shift into the proactive phase of dealing with the causes and consequences of bad customer service, keep the three R’s in mind:
When you or your colleagues make a mistake, do you apologize to those impacted? Avoid arguing with customers about blame and instead take responsibility. Implement policies that reflect your commitment to making amends; a discount, coupon, or apology note can go a long way to preserve your relationship with an unhappy customer.
Leaving customer complaints unresolved is a surefire way to lose them for life. Any issue brought to your attention must be handled in the timeliest manner possible. Even if you’re not sure of how best to move forward, keep your customer in the loop about potential options. By alerting them to your efforts to find a fix, you’ll reassure them that they do, in fact, matter.
It all comes down to the Golden Rule: treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Demonstrate empathy and understanding in each of your customer interactions and it’ll pay off in spades. Even the worst customer service experiences can provide an opportunity to delight and win over skeptical folks. All it takes is an inherent respect, from one human being to another.
Revolutionize Your Customer Service Strategy with MAP Communications
Bad customer service doesn’t have to end in disaster. In fact, many successful businesses only exploded in popularity after learning lessons about customer service the hard way. If you’re hoping to revolutionize the way your organization interacts with customers, it may boil down to finding the right outsourced partner. A professional answering service can do wonders for your image at a fraction of what it might cost to bring on additional employees.
A virtual receptionist can do wonders to improve customer relationships. Callers are greeted professionally and promptly, every time. Reliability is the key. By serving as a stalwart representative of your organization, a virtual receptionist works to build and sustain positive customer relationships while also giving you the space necessary to evolve your organization.
Best of all, you can try our live answering service for free. We’re offering a free seven day trial for anyone interested in leveling up their organization’s customer experience. Designed to be a completely risk-free preview of our services, the trial is a great way to see just how much value we can bring to your business. Sign up today and we can begin transforming your reputation together!