Last year, complaints about customer service were at record level. Poor service negatively impacts a company’s image and, ultimately, its business outcomes. It can also make headlines – not all publicity is good publicity. Companies should continually focus on their reputations. 

Customer service at the heart of the business’ success

Take Uber, for example – its innovative transportation app has seen widespread success. It has become a leader in the ride-sharing market and was the highest-valued private start-up company globally. However, in recent years its reputation has floundered, impacting its market share.  

There are many open stories in the press about Uber’s toxicity. It is punctuated with ethical lapses, leadership woes, and a generally bad culture. So much so that even now, the product is undervalued relative to the market. Many potential customers are boycotting it altogether in some locations. The decline of Uber is a cautionary tale on why service matters. 

An overwhelming 95% of consumers believe customer service is essential to brand loyalty. Meanwhile, it’s been found that 50% of customers would switch to a new brand after just one bad experience. The same relates to employees too.  

Happy employees deliver better customer service. Research shows that when looking at millennial and Gen Z’s values, nearly 40% have rejected a job or assignment because it did not align with their beliefs. Similarly, those who are satisfied with their employers’ societal and environmental impact, and efforts to create a diverse and inclusive culture, are more likely to stay long term.  

In today’s complex customer experience (CX) landscape, where expectations are high and leniency is low, it is critical that businesses anticipate and respond to changes in customer behaviour. To do this, organisations require a robust CX programme built around monitoring feedback to leverage deep customer insights. 

Feedback is a form of currency

In today’s competitive landscape, data derived from feedback is a business’ most important form of currency. Just as customer expectations are complex, so too is unlocking the business insight from customer interaction data. These channels can be private to the business, such as net promoter score (NPS) review surveys and chatbots. Or, through public touchpoints like social media and review sites.  

Public feedback gives businesses a wealth of unstructured data. This is instrumental for deeply engaging with customers and quickly identifying areas for improvement.  

Managing public feedback and its vast amount of data can be a time-consuming, logistical nightmare. Especially for organisations with multiple locations and where data is siloed. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to deal with. 

Today’s experience management tools make managing customer feedback more streamlined. Aggregate all data collected from an organisation’s digital channels and translate it into insight that can set targets. You will then be able to measure improvement and grow a business’s bottom line. 

Automobile manufacturer Kia UK found its star rating was suffering across all locations. This was influenced by factors like multiple customer touchpoints, inaccurate business listings and having vast amounts of public data to process. So, Kia adopted a customised solution to generate meaningful insights.  

It soon reversed the reduced reviews and lost customers by increasing its capacity to respond to reviews by 750%. This contributed to an uplift in its UK market share of 25%. Clearly, acting on feedback, in the form of data, can be pivotal in changing market perceptions. 

Do you need a Chief Reputation Officer?

Understanding your customer and digital audience can be complicated – but it is essential. It only takes one unhappy customer or poorly timed comment to spin a business into crisis. The resulting fallout can lead to long-term business damage severely impacting your reputation and revenue.  

A Chief Reputation Officer (CRO) would be responsible for reputation, brand wellness, and internal and external communications – available to navigate where red flags arise. Having this offers the means to deliver a swift and agile response, backed by a well-thought-out crisis management plan. In some organisations, a CRO might build a full reputation management team. This, supported by the right technology investments, can help departments such as CX, sales, marketing and communications.  

No business is immune from the impact of poor CX. The right response to a moment of crisis can ensure your company is continued to be viewed as honest, trustworthy, and reliable. 

Customer and employee experience as one

Feedback doesn’t just affect your brand; it impacts employee morale too. Protecting a business’ reputation means being attentive to the employee experience as well.  

This issue is more pertinent than ever in the current hiring environment. The UK hospitality trade bodies predict that staffing has reached critical levels, with a potential £21 billion reduction in revenue for 2022. Further research suggests that 90% of large employers in the UK are suffering a skills shortage.  

Current and prospective talent may have reservations about working for an organisation with a tarnished reputation – disagreeing on personal grounds or concerned about how they may be perceived by others. In the current climate, organisations cannot afford to deter talent or lose employees with industry knowledge. 

Transparency within the workplace is essential to retaining talent. If a company has a dedicated CRO and the right data, it can identify employees who are at risk of leaving. This provides opportunity for communication and reduces the chances of talent jumping ship.  

Fostering a culture of transparency and trust drives a positive atmosphere. In turn, it can motivate a team and contribute to successful business outcomes.  

From listening to taking action

Understand that your business is only as successful as its least happy customer and employee. Actively and accurately listening to them is essential. There are tools in place to accomplish this.  

Staying on top of consumer perceptions and morals, as well as monitoring your business’s perception, is a full-time job. It’s about both listening and acting – reacting swiftly to business and customer needs

Identifying and responding to a dip in positive review rates for a local dealership could be the make or break for sales in that area. Or, spotting an emerging trend – such as the public paying greater attention to a business’s corporate social responsibility practices – can help you pivot and communicate where your business stands in relation to customer appetite.  

Consumer values are ever-changing. By monitoring for feedback through customer experience programmes, businesses can better align to customer values and expectations. Overall, this will drive essential decision-making. 

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