These days, businesses in a crisis are often put under heavy public scrutiny with regards to how well they handle the situation. One of the most common criticisms is that a firm fails to provide excellent quality service over a number of channels. This brings up the question: Are businesses required to set up communication via a number of different avenues? Looking at today’s trends, the answer is a resounding yes especially for firms seeking to maintain their reputation at all times.
Common Excuses by Today’s Businesses
There are many reasons why firms fail to set up a multi-channel service to handle these crisis situations. Some of the most common include:
• The extra cost of setting up additional services
• Difficulties with scalability for future growth
• The speed of response within certain channels
Since these excuses are heard so often, they are believed to be accurate for many companies. Unfortunately, those who don’t take advantage of phone, email and social media channels as a whole fail to grasp today’s public attitude when it comes to customer service.
Consumer Trends in the Present
The modern day consumer expects to be able to reach a business via a number of different channels. In essence, they demand service at all times no matter which device they are using. This means they can call up on their mobile, leave an online review through their personal computer or write a post on Facebook, essentially give their feedback through multiple possible avenues.
Lack of preparation leaves a company open to criticism regardless of the efforts made to handle the situation. For instance, a firm might already have a team of telephone operators on standby yet still be blamed for slow service in times of excess incoming calls. Alternatively, a company may not have a Twitter account and then receive negative feedback from those seeking to gain contact through this medium. This makes it more likely that a business suffers damage to its reputation as a result.
A Smart Multi-Channel Strategy
Of course, it is impossible for most businesses, especially the smaller ones, to offer a complete service solution across all platforms. The key here is to find out which channels your customers prefer to use and then develop your communication capabilities there. Find out precisely what the public wants and develop a more focused plan afterwards.
For those avenues which aren’t used often, it is still important for a business to establish a presence there. As an example, a company may create a Facebook page and place contact details through which a customer can call or email afterwards. Thus, you can form an extensive web of avenues, all directing individuals back to places where you can then offer them the service that they desire.
The Struggle to Meet Expectations
A great deal of planning needs to be made beforehand so the company can meet the public’s often stringent demands. A great example of one firm which made an effort and still failed is the American public railway service, Amtrak, which experienced a severe derailment on 12 May 2015. Despite training over 20 call centre staff on how to handle social media enquiries, their ultimate response still caused damage to the company’s reputation with people complaining that their service was “tardy,” “terse,” and “unhelpful.”
Corporations and Their Lack of Urgency
Despite these growing consumer trends, many firms fail to expand their media response services across multiple channels. While being available over the phone offers some level of customer service, almost 50% of consumers plan on using social media to make some form of enquiry in the future, according to one US study.
The same paper also found that 33% of businesses fail to answer comments over platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This highlights a lack of awareness about the need for companies to create multi-channel crisis management services to deal with unexpected situations in the future.
Customer Service to Beat the Competition
Since almost a third of businesses fail to take all customer communication avenues into account, it is easy for the savvy company owner to stand out above his or her competition. In addition to setting up a call centre with the right number of operators to deal with an emergency – or knowing of an outsourcing agency to handle addition incoming calls – a firm should also train a social media response team to take care of emergency enquiries over channels such as:
Media response here should be proactive too, giving updates about the current situation as well as reacting to consumer enquiries. This will be sure to protect the company’s reputation during these uncertain times by giving the public the information they need from the moment they get in touch until you successfully resolve the issue.
Turning a Negative into a Positive
This type of approach can actually transform a crisis situation into one which benefits the company. If a firm takes care of the public even during times of instability and stress, this provides an excellent example of how reliable that company really is. Not only can a well-executed media response prevent damage to a firm’s reputation but it can also present a stronger image to the public. Multi-channel service is a great way to show off your business in a positive light especially if you show resilience and fortitude under pressure and reveal how dependable your company is at all times.
By creating an effective media response strategy over a number of different channels, including phone, email and social media, a company can form a more stable base from which to reach out and connect to its customers. Whether times are normal or a calamity has arrived, you will be able to handle all consumer enquiries whether they call you up, send you an email or drop by your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Thinking about multi-channel customer service can boost your reputation even if a crisis hits and you have to scramble to fix everything as a result.