Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 in
By Lance Trebesch, CEO, TicketPrinting.com
Ever had a customer service issue with a massive, multi-national corporation? Ever tried complaining directly to their CEO?
Would you expect a personal answer back if you did?
Mega-corporations may not individually answer every email; most likely they’ve earned consumer trust with long histories, consistent products, and expensive ad campaigns. Perhaps really huge companies can afford to ignore some individuals who purchase their products. In fact, the Top-500 are notorious for failing to answer customer emails in a timely fashion. And yet, bad communication is a surefire way to lose repeat business. But it gets worse.
The Consequences of the Big Business Model
Ignore the wrong person and you may find your reputation smeared across high ranking and highly searchable sites such as Yelp, Epinion, or Rate It All. Instead of the minute or so it takes to respond to a query, you could spend a couple years and tens of thousands of dollars on reputation management: damage control in response to all those negative reports, just like companies such as Comcast, Dell, and Jet Blue, which found themselves in need of increasingly complicated online strategies on Twitter and other social networking sites to combat the damage done by bad reviews and unhappy customers.
Rather than wasting time and money, you’re better off preemptively preventing them. Responsiveness to customers is fast, cheap, and easy, and it creates that bond of trust that creates faithful clients and brand loyalty.
As a CEO, I know that accessibility is one of the best ways to build trust with my customers, particularly when I’m doing business online, and particularly since printing is always a “trust buy.” Customers can contact me directly through the TicketPrinting.com website, but I don’t wait for them to initiate contact. I send an email to every customer the day after the order is scheduled to arrive, and if there is a problem, I hear about it personally.
How do you create trust through accessibility?
1. Really care about your customers. You can’t fake sincerity.
2. Put a customer service phone number on every page.
3. Use real, helpful, friendly people to answer phones instead of complex phone trees.
4. Include a signature file on every email with your name and direct email address.
Accessibility must pair with responsiveness. Checking for messages throughout the day, at night, on weekends, and answering them immediately, is an easy way for me to win the trust of potential, new, and returning customers. I can’t count the hundreds of compliments I have received from customers who appreciate this type of responsiveness, and I always reply, “It’s my job and we appreciate your business.” One customer, inquiring about our products, said, “I am definitely ordering from your company. If the CEO is this responsive, then the company must also be.”
For example, I once received an email on a Saturday afternoon. A customer in Chicago was so disgruntled that he asked me to call him immediately, which I did. I gave this customer 45 minutes of my time, first resolving his immediate issue, and then discussing his overall ticket printing and collateral printing needs and how my business could help his business. This once-angry customer has faithfully provided us with repeat business for the last 3 years. Rather than losing one account, or risking negative feedback, I addressed his issue and created a loyal customer from an unhappy one.
Making a policy of responding to customers as individuals, not just clients or numbers, pays off. When potential customers request samples of our templates and ticket printing, we send these out next day air. Appreciative recipients often express their approval of our fast response. Who’s more likely to get their business—TicketPrinting.com, or the company that doesn’t respond in a timely fashion?
When a customer writes to a company and receives a reply back from the CEO within a few hours, or a few minutes, that company has created a huge reservoir of trust.