We’re mid-way through the golden quarter, and Black Friday is upon us. With the festive shopping period here, retailers must prepare themselves to deal with an increased volume of customer enquiries, deliveries, and returns. Ensuring customer satisfaction at this key point in the calendar is vital.
Given the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, it is expected that many families will wait until the last minute to purchase Christmas gifts, meaning the window of opportunity for businesses to resolve customer queries before Christmas Day will be shortened.
Whilst customers have traditionally taken to the phone, emails, and chatbots to reach customer service teams, there has been a sizeable shift in the number of consumers using reviews to express their satisfaction – or, most concerningly – their discontent with the service received.
With reviews playing a critical role in building and preserving a brand’s reputation, below we’ll look at the importance of good customer service as reviews increase as a customer communication channel.
How customer contact preferences are changing
From September 2022 to September 2023, we observed a 25% decrease in the number of consumers contacting our customer service teams via web chat. The story is the same for those accessing telephone and email support, with a reduction of 21% and 17% respectively.
Conversely, the use of online review platforms has risen significantly. For example, the number of customers publicly sharing their opinion of a business’s support function on Trustpilot has increased by a whopping 180%. Social media channels are also becoming an increasingly popular choice to connect with businesses, with 34% more customers using Facebook to leave reviews since this time last year.
And it isn’t just positive reviews that customers are leaving. In December last year, Trustpilot reported 50,000 fewer positive reviews and an increase in negative reviews. With poor customer service, slow response times to enquiries, and order mistakes being amongst the most common reviews, businesses must prioritise their customer service function throughout the busiest period of the year to avoid potentially long-lasting consequences and ensure overall customer satisfaction.
How good customer service helps create positive reviews
As the use of review platforms grows, we can see that customers’ expectations of quality customer service is increasing. Although reviews may once have been a supplementary cog in the customer service machine, consumers are increasingly using this communication channel as a way to seek assistance and openly share with other consumers about the quality of service they received.
This means that businesses have two choices: prioritise providing customers with an efficient service, or risk damaging their reputation. To illustrate the power of the former, our Small Business report found that around a third (32%) of people are encouraged to leave a more balanced review online as a result of good service, and 27% said that it prevents them from leaving a negative review. Small businesses aren’t exempt from negative reviews either, as 41% of people are equally as likely to leave a negative review for small businesses as they would for large businesses.
The importance of a positive reputation
In our era of online reviews, social media, and vast business competition, a company’s reputation is more fragile than ever. Failing to provide customers with prompt and effective problem resolution and friendly interactions can lead to distrust that rapidly spreads to other consumers. However prioritising high-quality customer service leads to the opposite and acts as a protective shield for a business’s reputation and credibility.
Satisfied customers often become brand advocates, as customers who feel valued become more inclined to trust the business, and in turn, share their positive experiences through reviews. What’s more, customers who receive excellent service in the aftermath of a problem are often compelled to update their negative reviews, or even replace them with positive ones.
Reliable support through busy periods
Maintaining excellent customer service can be difficult for businesses in the face of tough economic conditions and endless tasks to juggle, especially if they are attempting to handle all customer queries and complaints in-house.
But with consumers’ finances stretched more than ever, providing reliable and efficient customer service is key to securing positive reviews that will help shoppers to decide where to spend their money.
Fortunately, businesses don’t need to take on this task alone. At FM Outsource, we provide flexible and scalable outsourced customer service that ensures all customers’ expectations are not only met but consistently exceeded.
With friendly advisors and speedy resolutions, find out more about how we can support businesses to protect their reputations throughout predictably busy periods here.