respecting consumers is still important

Well, Comcast did it again. They renamed one of their customers in a VERY unpleasant way, and accidentally sent her a bill with that name on it. They’ve consistently landed themselves on the bottom of consumer satisfaction reports, are constantly complained about and blasted on social media, and still, it seems like there is no end in sight for the media conglomerate and its blatant lack of respect for its consumers. Why? Because it’s Comcast. A company so huge, it seems untouchable; and in a digital age, it can be easy to fall into that trap.

The Internet disconnects us all from human interaction, and therefore lessens our feelings of accountability. While it can be tempting to just ignore your haters, or to blast them right back with something equally insulting, there can be negative blowback on your brand if you aren’t careful. First, let me tell you why it’s important to respect and satisfy the needs of your consumer:

A satisfied consumer is a loyal brand advocate.
This is pretty self evident. If your consumer/customer is happy, they are more likely to stick with your company and in the long term, spend more, collaborate on more projects, etc. Whatever your business, loyal and returning customers are key to profitability. Not only do they contribute to long-term business, they are more likely to recommend your product or services to someone else.

Consumers value experience more than cost.
A report in 2008 showed that ‘overall poor quality of customer service’ contributes more to customer churn than price increase. (Churn is the percentage of subscribers that unsubscribe or discontinue during a period of time. Read more about that here.)

They will find someone else.
The internet has made it easier than ever to find multiple sources for any given product, and people will not hesitate to switch if they aren’t happy with the way you handle their account. (Comcast makes this difficult, but with most products and services, there are numerous alternatives out there.)

Ready to Take the Next Steps?

There are tons of studies and statistics and articles about the importance of consumer satisfaction, and just as many reasons why you should take it seriously. But for now, let’s just say you do take it seriously, and you’re ready to take the next steps to implement a good strategy into your digital channels. Here are some important things to consider:

Identify your consumer’s key interests.
Which social networks are they using? What new outlets do they pay attention to? Defining these things can help you in determining where and how you should be connecting with your client base. If your consumers are using social media, it can be a great place to connect with them and foster a positive environment for discussion and collaboration in reference to your brand. If they don’t use social media networks, you may need to try something like a FAQ or an online forum of some sort. Without in person interaction, your brand experience is reliant on your ability to communicate the information your consumers need through an online channel.

Personalize your message.
While it can be easy to copy and paste an online response, it can seem too robotic and impersonal, and might give people the wrong idea. You don’t want your consumers to think you don’t have time for them – after all, they drive your business! Taking the time to write a message that doesn’t sound cold and automated will help win the hearts of your public.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.
Remember when your parents spouted that fount of wisdom? Well, it’s just as true in the digital world, especially when you’re speaking for a brand. (Here’s a pretty good example of why speaking negatively online doesn’t work.)

But definitely don’t just ignore the problem.
This can also backfire and cause a whole lot more trouble than it’s worth. For one thing, just because you’re not engaging in the conversation, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen without you. It’s always better to be aware of what people are saying about you; if it’s negative, try to find a way to turn it around! How can you solve the problem – or at least, how can you turn a negative experience into a positive one?

Anticipate what your consumer wants and needs.
Whenever you launch a new product, share a company update, or engage in any way, think about it from a consumer angle. Can you see any prospective issues? Tackle the issues you can before they even occur and you’ll keep your client base happy in the long term.

Be prompt.
It’s hard to stay on top of every comment, message, email, text, etc. that comes flowing in during the course of a business day, but it’s important to try to target issues and respond to them as soon as you can. Consumers expect you to respond quickly – social networks and the like have made it easier than ever before to communicate (and in some ways, more difficult) so don’t let your channels fall short!

Listen to what your audience has to say.
Consumer feedback, even in the form of social media comments, can give you valuable insight into what your products and services are lacking, and what they do well. Leveraging this can be invaluable for the growth of your business.