The world of customer service is changing, with most queries and complaints now dealt with on email or phone, with a face to face meeting unlikely to be an option for the vast majority of complainants. The instantaneous nature of email and social media means that people expect a higher level of customer service, and demand resolutions to any issues promptly: 25% of survey respondents had their most recent complaint solved within a day which shows that the bar for quick, agile and effective solutions is getting higher.

The growth of social media also means that frustrated customers can take their complaints straight to a company’s Twitter or Facebook page, which can be damaging to a company’s reputation with comments available for all to see. Whilst only 5% of online respondents used social media to register a complaint in the past year, 16% believe it is the most effective method, and it is likely there will be a rise in the number of people taking to social media to complain about customer service they’ve received.

Gerald Grimes, Managing Director of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, which was recently accredited by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) for outstanding customer service, expands on the issue:

“Expectations of customer services are getting higher and businesses need to start using this to their advantage. Rather than see transparency on social media as a potentially negative avenue for damaging reviews, companies that can offer online feedback 24/7 will keep a consistently high customer satisfaction score.

“Providing first-rate omni-channel customer service leads to customer satisfaction which in turn means high customer retention. Businesses would therefore be well-advised to take their customer service complaints function seriously – it ultimately pays for itself.”

Over one in five Brits (21%) believe that the most effective way for making a complaint to customer service is in person, according to a survey run by Hitachi Capital this week. However, just 4% of Brits chose to make a complaint face to face in the last year.

Whilst the human touch is highest valued by customers, businesses need to start communicating effectively across other, less personal mediums, such as email or social media. Most customer service complaints can be easily resolved by providing an explanation of the situation or by sending an apologetic response. Fewer require monetary output such as gifting vouchers or delivering refunds to dissatisfied customers.

Mr Grimes continued:

“Amazing customer service doesn’t need to be delivered face to face anymore, but truly great organisations can resolve complaints over email or the phone by directing any enquiries to the relevant team as speedily and efficiently as possible. For instance on social media, companies wish to avoid discussing confidential information such as a refund in the public sphere, and so the social media team need to forward any requests to the complaints team who can pick it up and resolve the situation.

“As companies, we should not consider certain times any more or less important than others, and be able to deliver a consistent level of feedback for customers across all platforms. The most important thing is to make sure you are agile enough to cope with demand, by drafting in additional help when required so you never compromise on service.”
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