How we as IP communications companies deal with customer complaints can make or break our success as well as the "industry's." Many people switching from PSTN or other traditional communications to IP can be immediately turned off by the industry in general with just a few minutes of uppity, rude customer service responses or even worse, ignoring complaints.
Our company has been a member of the USA Better Business Bureau since 2004. We do this openly because we wish to be transparent, effective, satisfying as possible for our customers. We have had many complaints in-house and posted to BBB, but have managed to resolve all with a resulting A+ BBB rating throughout the years.
We're still not satisfied. We have an "I wish" button in the portal of for example, every DIDX member, and we have a presence in social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blogs and Techistan where we are often confronted with complaints and issues by customers or competitors. We do our best to settle every issue with communication, discussion and resolution.
The Better Business Bureau recently sent members the following advice, which I think is excellent, so I want to pass it on..
The old adage is that a satisfied customer will tell three people and an unsatisfied customer will tell ten. However, with the advent of blogs, Twitter, YouTube and more, disgruntled customers can now share their rants for the world to hear.
Just as an online rant can damage a business' reputation, successfully handling complaints online can showcase a business' dedication to customer service, setting it apart from competition. BBB offers the following advice:
Continually monitor the online conversation. Even simply doing an Internet search of your business' name every couple days can help you monitor what's being said about your business.Pick your battles. It may not be possible to address every blog post, comment or tweet. Look for complaints that are less than a few days old, on prominent sites and are about problems that you can solve.
Offer full disclosure. When defending your business online, don't pretend to be an unbiased consumer. Tech savvy individuals can easily deduce who's behind comments so it's best to be honest and admit up-front that you represent the business.
Take the conversation offline. Don't make the mistake of hashing out disputes online for everyone to see. Instead, keep online responses polite and direct and ask the customer if you can contact them directly by e-mail or phone to discuss the specific details of their complaint.
Don't say anything privately that you wouldn't want public. Just because you've taken the conversation offline, it doesn't mean that your e-mails and phone conversations won't end up on the Internet, so always remain polite and professional.
Follow through. Don't drop the conversation when resolving a dispute and always follow through on promises. * Consider providing a little extra perk, such as coupons, after the issue has been resolved.
Know when to walk away. There's no satisfying some angry customers and at times a small business owner can only offer a sincere apology and walk away from the conversation.
For additional BBB advice on providing great customer service both on and off-line start with bbb.org.