Don’t be a “Bad Service” Story

I’ve recently spent quite a bit of time looking at online reviews on the many online rating sites. I’ve noticed some interesting patterns.

First, the ratings don’t follow a “normal” distribution, in which most of the ratings fall in the middle. Instead, there tend to be clusters of high ratings and low ratings… often for the same product or service. This really isn’t surprising: people are most likely to write a review if they feel very strongly about something.

The high ratings generally extol the features or services provided, often at a low price. Stepping back, it really is remarkable how good products have become. It’s clear from the reviews that most people are very happy with most of their purchases.

But things get very interesting when we read the negative reviews. Some are complaints about features or product quality… but a large number are complaints about service. If a product breaks or fails in some way, the purchaser is unhappy. But if the manufacturer or seller does not provide prompt, courteous, and satisfactory service, the buyer becomes really angry – and that’s when the very negative reviews get written.

This carries over to the offline world as well. Very few people go out of their way to tell their acquaintances about a product that wasn’t very good. But if someone has a bad experience getting the product fixed, they will go to great lengths to tell everyone they can about the terrible service they received.

The lesson here is simple: take customer service seriously! When a customer has a complaint about a product, he is already unhappy. You as a business have an opportunity to turn him into a happy (or at least satisfied) customer, or into a very angry ex-customer.

Four simple things will head off becoming a “bad service” story:

  1. Respond quickly
  2. Respond courteously
  3. Work with the customer. It’s true that customers are sometimes unreasonable, and you can’t always give the customer what he would like. But be very clear that you are willing to work with the customer to arrive at a fair solution.
  4. Follow up to be sure that customer’s problem is resolved.

Providing reasonable service is pretty simple – it’s amazing more companies don’t do it.

Learn more at the Rating and Review Professional Association.