How to Use Customer Service Management to Keep Complaints from Going Viral

Posted by on November 20, 2016


In 2013 an Australian teenager noticed that his foot-long wasn’t—a foot long, that is. He posted a photo on Facebook showing that his sandwich only measured out to 11 of the advertised 12 inches—a full bite short!

With lighting speed, that single photo was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, igniting a world-wide epidemic of concerned sandwich consumers measuring their subs before taking that first bite. The impact of the negative publicity was incalculable, with some customers even filing lawsuits against the sandwich chain, seeking recompense for their one-bite-short sandwiches.

Welcome to the social media age.

Customer Service Management More Important Than Ever

Customer service management has always been important in the retail business. A couple of decades ago, a dropped customer service ball would likely result in your brand’s reputation taking a hit in the eyes of a single customer. The damage might spread to a small group of people after the angry customer spread the word to friends, family, and acquaintances.

But today, an incident of bungled customer service can do far more harm than it might have just 20 years ago.

Now the angry customer might let the entire world know what she thinks of your brand. And thanks to social media, the entire world is listening, and reacting. Just one disgruntled customer can light a global conflagration that torches your brand before your very eyes—exactly the way it happened to Subway.

Tweet this: Why customer service management is more important now than it ever has been

The Social Media Explosion

Though it may seem like forever that we’ve been Tweeting and Facebooking and Instagraming and Snapchatting, social media is a relatively recent phenomenon. The first true social media site is widely regarded to have been ICQ, which launched in 1996.

Since then the use of social media has snowballed. According to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans now use one or more social media outlets on a regular basis. Nearly 80 percent of Americans with internet access use Facebook regularly—3 of every 4 Americans check the site on a daily basis. Quite simply, social media has become a part of the daily lives of most people.

What are the topics of interest on social media? Just about anything that impacts peoples’ lives, and that certainly includes experiences—good and bad—with products and retail brands.

Firecrackers Can Spark Wildfires

Forbes recently reported that social media has become a major driver of retail sales. According to a recent survey, nearly half of all social media users have purchased a product that has been favored (Liked, Favorited, Pinned, Retweeted, etc.) by other social media users. Somewhat surprisingly, social media is now driving in-store sales almost as much as online sales.

But disgruntled retail consumers are also likely to use social media to trash your brand. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 consumers will voice their displeasure on social media first, before even giving the offending company a chance to respond. And when just a single customer turns to social media to complain, all kinds of bad things can happen.

Consider Subway’s most un-excellent adventure. Twenty years ago, that lone customer complaint would have been no worse than a firecracker: annoying, but not particularly damaging. But social media provided the fuel that morphed the damage into a raging, global wildfire.

For CIOs and IT execs, the lesson is clear: Using ITSM in eliminating communication breakdowns and quickly nipping complaints in the bud can prevent firecrackers from morphing into something far more damaging.

Mobile + Mad = B-A-D

In the early days of the social media age, at least there was a bit of a buffer between your angry customer and the social media masses: Your customer needed access to a computer to share her disdain of your brand. In those days, most people didn’t carry a computer around with them, so angry customers often had a chance to cool down before accessing a computer and logging-in to their favorite social media site. Perhaps their fury would even abate enough so that they wouldn’t bother with posting.

But that buffer is long gone.

Now, virtually every one of your customers has instant access to social media through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. They can post at any time, and from any place. They can share their low opinion of your brand while their fury is still white-hot. And when your boiling-mad customer hits send on that scathing post, potentially millions around the world will receive it instantaneously on their mobile devices.

Tweet this: The growing amount of customers with instant access to social media is changing customer service all around

Don’t Fumble That Customer Service Management Ball!

Though it certainly isn’t possible to please all the people all the time, there’s always room for improvement in the business/customer relationship. And the massive-and-growing impact of social media makes it more important than ever for retail businesses to keep customers happy. Deploying a customer service management tool that streamlines and strengthens the business/customer relationship can help prevent those social media bonfires from ever getting lit.

After all, it’s one thing to make a single customer angry. It’s quite another thing to make an entire planet of customers and prospective customers angry with your brand — even if that seething surge begins with just one disgruntled voice on social media.

Looking for examples of how an ITSM tool can improve customer satisfaction? Read how a new ITSM tool helped an award-winning deli chain boost customer satisfaction metrics and improve communications company-wide.

Learn more