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How A Small Touch Can Turn A Bad Customer Experience Around

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When it comes to customer service, little touches can make a big impact.
Here’s how…

A bad experience for your customers can cost you dearly.

How dearly?

When it comes to customer loyalty, you risk paying the ultimate price: in 2011, Oracle reported that 89% of consumers have defected to a competitor following a poor customer experience.

Almost 9 in 10 customers have abandoned a business because of a poor experience.

A lot of it has to do with psychology. Specifically, the psychology of disappointment.

When we use a product, we have an expectation of how it will work.

And when it doesn’t?

Well, researchers at the University of Florida have suggested that our brains really, really hate unexpected outcomes.

Now, a lot of those “poor experiences” can be completely avoided simply through excellent customer service. And if you’re reading this blog, you probably already do many of the things it takes to ensure a great customer experience.

Some things. though, aren’t really up to you.

Especially in the online world: it’s a fact of life that software can sometimes break, and even the most minor of hiccups — a lost connection for a few seconds, for example — can tarnish your customers’ experience.

But it doesn’t have to.

Those little errors that your product will generate from time to time can be an abandonment point for your customers, or they can be an opportunity for a little touch to make a big difference and actually strengthen your relationship in a number of ways.

1) In-App Error Messages

Look at how Slack, with only a few extra words, turns an error message into a lighthearted interaction designed to dissipate customer anger and frustration.

It certainly worked on me.

When I got this message, I didn’t feel annoyed. I smiled, restarted Slack and got back to work.

Remember: Helpfulness + Humor. Humor without helpfulness will only make your customers angry, as they’ll see it as you making light of a poor experience. Be helpful first, and then add the little touch.

2) 404 Pages

The same principle can be applied to 404 pages, where your customers end up when they click on an expired link or type in the wrong URL.

Your customer just had a negative unexpected outcome, and they’re disappointed. But you can help.

Notice how Github’s 404 page is both helpful — it offers the lost visitor a search box to find what they were looking for — and funny in a relevant way, using a Star Wars reference that many GitHub users would instantly understand.

3) Customer Service Auto-Reply

When your product isn’t working, your customer may email you for help.

If they do, consider yourself lucky for the incredible gift that they just gave you.

According to a survey by Lee Resources International, for every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who don’t say anything.

Resolving the problem for a single customer could make dozens of other customers happier at the same time.

But starting the resolution process doesn’t have to wait until you actually open their email.

Whether you’re using help desk software to manage support or handling your messages through regular email, you can set up an auto-reply to confirm to your customer that you’ve received their note.

We’ve tested dozens of auto-replies at Groove, and found the most effective one (resulting in the highest customer satisfaction scores at the end of the interaction) to be a simple, conversational message that — this is critical — sets expectations for response time.

Personalize the email with the customer’s name to make the message feel less canned.

Small touches don’t have to be funny or clever to work. They just have to show your customer that they’re important to you, and that they’re doing business with people, not products.

Small Touches Make A Big Difference

There are countless ways that you can use small touches to build better relationships with your customers, but adding them to “hiccup”-type situations is a great place to start.

By showing your customers that you care enough to put a bit of extra work into making them happy, you’ll fight abandonment, increase retention and set your business apart.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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