The customer voice is louder than ever

customer voice

My first paying job was in retail at a local mall, long before the existence of social media. If someone had something positive or negative to say about their experience in the store, they had to call a toll-free number or come into the store and talk to the manager face-to-face. It didn’t happen often, and when it did it was usually regarding a bad experience. I rarely experienced a customer thanking me for helping them or asking me to pass along their thanks to one of my colleagues.

Today, I make an effort to thank helpful salespeople, fold clothes the way I found them, and put them back where they belong. What’s more, I share my positive experiences with my followers on Twitter, my friends on Facebook and even through online reviews. With social media, online shopping and review sites there is access to shout complaints from the rooftops regarding a brand or poor experience — but what I love is the ability to share the good and great experiences.

The Internet has forever changed the way in which we tell people about our experience with a brand or company. It used to be if you had a bad experience, you would maybe tell the manager but definitely spread the word to all of your friends, family and coworkers with the warning, “I wouldn’t go there if I were you.” Now, not only can you talk to the manager and tell your friends and family about the experience, but you can share it with the world. Take for example a British Airways customer who tweeted, “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their service is horrendous.” The tweet received worldwide attention within four hours of posting. British Airways eventually responded… six hours later. Six hours too late. Part of the beauty of social media is the ability to make an immediate response — like you would in a face-to-face confrontation. On the flip side, not responding to a complaint within minutes can make it appear that you don’t care what the customer thinks. The customer voice has a lot more power and carries more weight in today’s highly connected world.

Brands with loyal, returning customers provide exceptional service — both in store and online. They understand the value of listening to customers and responding quickly and respectfully. While the customer voice is bigger than ever, so is the need for brands to listen more carefully. Social media and online reviews present an opportunity for brands to provide better customer service. As a result, brands can increase their engagement with customers and prospective customers alike. Engagement drives relationships and relationships drive revenue.

Are you listening to your customers? How are you engaging with them and improving their experience with your brand?