As it appeared in the daily nation of February 3rd 2015
When Dave Corroll the Canadian musician sung the widely talked about protest song “United Breaks Guitars 1” he possibly never imaged that it would get to the current over 14 million views on YouTube. It does not matter that Dave sang a second and even a third version of the song soon after, his first release was the greatest hit in the customer service arena. The song has attracted lots of interest and it gave Dave the much needed attention from United Airlines. In the process, Dave become a customer service crusader and by the time he was done being mad at United as he says in his third song, he hoped that United would change. He pointed out to the fact that there were many other customers who did not write a song but shared their frustration elsewhere.
The song “United Breaks Guitars 1” was released in July 2009, today almost 5 years later the voice of the customer has become even louder. Though very few customers may have what it takes to record the kind of songs that Dave did, most customers are today better informed of their right to quality service than ever before. In addition, millions of customers have access to the internet and the easy to use social networking platforms to share their experiences. Platforms such as Twitter, Face book, online review sites, Instagram among others have become to the customer what the amplifier is to a speaker. Many customers today are very keen to share their experiences with the world. The tendency to share the negative experiences more often than the positive ones can be linked to an old customer service statistic stating that happy customers were likely to tell 4-5 people while unhappy customers told 9-12 other people. That was in the olden days. Today, the numbers are in the thousands.
Social sites have without doubt become the customers’ mouth piece. In 2012, Gartner a Technology Research and Advisory firm had predicted that by 2014, organizations that refuse to communicate with customers via social media will face the same level of wrath from customers as those that ignore basic expectation to respond to emails and phone calls. 2 years later many of the organizations in the B to C category have taken this very seriously, many know the pain of losing customers in masses. Carol Rozwell the Gartner vice president said “The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers” Is your organization listening? The growing social voice of the customer can no longer be ignored. Soon, many of the customer service issues we face in Kenya will go viral and becoming trending topics on our social network platforms.
As customers turn to social media channels to interact and to vent, it is crucial that smart companies have in place a game plan on how to manage such interactions smoothly. It is not about hiring a social media enthusiast or specialist; it is about integrating social media interactions into other customer service improvement efforts. Managing the voice of the customer must continue to be an area that interests senior executives especially in industries that elicit many customer conversations. What are your customers saying?
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on email@example.com/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy