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Customer centric businesses in the era of the review

by | Business, Marketing, Professional Stuff

We live in the “review era.” Humans have never had such an impact power on people’s every-day decisions as they have right now.

TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and Foursquare are just some names that have started to orbit around what customers have to say about products, services, restaurants, food, supermarkets, among others.

How much has this affected our relationship with businesses?

Let’s set our minds back in 1995. We go to a trendy restaurant downtown and expect to have a great time as we have heard from friends and coworkers that place has the best French dishes in town.

We arrive and right up-front we have to wait 30 minutes to go in. There’s a line, and the place is packed. We didn’t know this, and this restaurant is so new the number is not yet on the Yellow Pages or the local phone guide so we couldn’t call to make a reservation.

After being waiting for 45 minutes outside we finally get in, and the excitement starts to kick in. The waitress brings the menu, and we begin to be delighted by the ingredients in every dish. We do not recognize half of them, but everything sounds incredibly delicious.

We order some beverages, and 15 minutes later we’re still waiting for them to be brought to us and to order our starter and entrées. We are not pleased with the service, and we are starting to get frustrated.

After more than 45 minutes of sitting inside the restaurant, we finished our dishes. Everything was delicious, but the service was not by all means excellent. It was dreadful, and we asked for the manager to complain about it.

A lot has happened since we were worried about dam doors opening and bank systems going crazy as we entered a “new” century, a “new” millennium, the year 2000. We have seen large companies come and go like MySpace, but we also saw the birth of some epic ones like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Long gone are the days our lives were trapped in an analogical world. We have never had so much information at the grasp of our hands. In under one second, we have access to the entire knowledge of roughly 5000 years of recorded history of the humankind.

Technology has set the power on the consumer

Now let’s imagine that this same situation happens in 2018. The first thing I should say is that you might not have that 30 minutes wait outside as you would probably have looked on Google how popular it is at that exact time before even planning on getting there and thus you would have made a reservation. 

However, let’s imagine we didn’t check on Google and we’re there waiting outside to be seated. Fifteen minutes in, we are switching apps (of course we had our smartphones on our hands already, are we neanderthals?) to Twitter and we look for the restaurant’s handle and mention it in a not so warm tweet with a hashtag similar to #badservice or #poorservice.

We would wait some minutes for any response from the restaurant’s community manager trying to calm us down, but nothing happens. We go then to Instagram and try to locate them. We know many businesses are switching Twitter with Instagram to DM customers with complaints. However, there is no certainty that we will be answered there.

The night goes through, and we shot some pictures, the dishes are stunning remember, and we share it on our Instagram as ordinary people do, right?. We ask to speak to the manager, and we hear that same story. The place is very crowded but everybody’s having a good time, nobody complains about it. Nevertheless, he says he’s sorry we haven’t had a pleasant evening, and he’s offering free dessert and beverages to compensate for that bad experience, and we feel like some justice has been made.

Something has changed indeed

What’s the change factor that makes this identical situation 23 years apart from each other have such different outcomes?. The answer is FEAR. The manager fears the power of the customer nowadays. Long gone are the days where a lousy customer experience died right with that client and had little impact on business. Nowadays a bad review on TripAdvisor’s The Fork or Google can go a long way to persuade potential customers from doing business with you.

Even though word-of-mouth still has a great deal on your business’ perception by other customers, the reviewing platforms like Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor are the ones that magnify its power and impact.

Now the customer has a tool to take justice into their own hands, but business owners and managers have gained the right to defend themselves as well. At first, the power balance was tilted towards the customer, which made it unfair for legitimate and honorable businesses that happened to have an unfortunate encounter with a particular client. However, right now the power is more balanced, and that brings benefits to everybody.

Business owners have found the hard way that the key to a successful business is in significant part to have a customer-focused service. Taking into account every pain point and every aspect of the customer’s journey will secure a great relationship with them and will resonate in excellent customer service.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you still call it “Digital Marketing”?

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