Dear Cretins, the balance of power is shifting

Responding to your customers needs and providing them with an exceptional service is basic common sense. It’s also very important.

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it” PETER DRUCKER

In world that is becoming increasingly online, the value of meaningful human interaction is greater than ever before. But how are businesses adapting to the emerging needs of online and offline communities?

The development of internet communities has created a shift in customer dynamic, in the past you might complain about shoddy service, but who would listen? Now online communities enable you to link with people who feel the same as you to form a critical mass that actually has influence over large organisations.

When HSBC decided to withdraw their free graduate overdraft facility more than 5,000 students joined Facebook’s Stop the Great HSBC Rip-Off!!! Group. HSBC reversed its decision.  Overdrafts remained free. Graduates rejoiced.

Facebook enabled students to come together around a specific issue with minimal risk, effort or financial outlay to influence the business strategy of a world bank. That’s impressive, and a wake up call for HSBC and other big corporations.

Customers are having conversations online that businesses have not been party to before. This can be a good thing; offering insights and giving companies the opportunity to respond to real customer needs (as opposed to the perceived needs). It can also go very sour if companies don’t respond quickly.

In February stationers Paperchase were accused of copying an independent artists designs. The publicity round this was huge mainly through use of Twitter which resulted in a lot of bad publicity, fuelled by initial lack of comment and an overall slow response.

Earlier this year the Vodafone twitter account was hacked by a rogue member of staff tweeting some lewd and grammatically incorrect tweets to customers. Vodafone customers were quick to inform Vodafone, who were honest enough to admit it wasn’t a hack but an employee. They apologised quickly and continued to engage with customers throughout the day and seemed to gain trust for their honestly and engagement.

This beautifully written complaint letter to Virgin went viral and allegedly resulted in a personal call from Sir Branson himself.  Compare to ‘Dear Cretins’, a complaint letter to NTL which presumably still isn’t resolved.

So my points are;

1.Good customer service is expected – you don’t get any points for just being good

2. Delight your customers, go the extra mile, demonstrate Fred like qualities and your customers will value you

3. Give a rubbish service and your customers will complain and tell the world

4. Put the problem right and you will get the value back (see point 2)

4. Don’t underestimate the influence of online communities and networks for both good and bad

5. Respond to social networks quickly and honestly and you can get the value back (see point 2)

6. Never call me ‘Madam’ It’s a personal thing. You have been warned.

If you are interested in this stuff, you’ll like these.

The Fred Factor – Mark Sandborn

Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky

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