Identifying The Bottleneck In Customer Satisfaction

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“Ur network ur customer service is diabolical ur network ripped me off n then shut me down n am still waitin on a supervisor gettin bk ta me 2 month down the line n am no holdin ma breathe thank god 4 02!!!!!!”

“Help! We are small business owners in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. Our network coverage has disappeared AGAIN. This happens regularly. When I call your staff are not particularly bothered and can’t offer any guidelines as to when service will be resumed. We should not be paying for this appalling service and you should be doing something about it.”

The two quotes above are just a small sample of the complaints and brickbats posted this week by customers on the Facebook wall of a popular UK based mobile network provider. With social media usage having grown exponentially over the past decade, the challenges that businesses face has grown too. Every single complaint about wrong billing or faulty product is a potential PR nightmare. Social media management is indeed a double-edged sword. Companies with massive social following can quite instantly make their new product announcements viral. But when things go bad, the firefighting that is required can be equally stifling.

The disparity in demand-supply is seldom discussed in terms of customer satisfaction. But most often, this is the reason why businesses face social media onslaught. Take the example of the mobile network provider above. With close to a million followers on Facebook, the statistical probability of a fraction of them facing a product/service issue at any given moment is quite high. And when a few of these customers do not get what they want, social media shaming follows. Even a fraction of the customers taking their grievances online would mean hundreds of complaints every day – each one capable of becoming the next PR trouble. No number of social media representatives is sufficient to answer all these questions and put down all of the fire.

This goes beyond the internet world. In the automotive space, one of the challenges that companies face is meeting the demand for spares and accessories at the right time to the customers who need it. For example, Volvo recently announced plans to aggressively push into the car segment and nearly double their sales volume. When the number of cars on road double in number, so does the demand for its spares and accessories. While the success of the former depends on the company’s marketing strategy, the latter depends on a flawless supply-chain distribution system. The only way to meet the demand for spares and performance accessories is by synchronizing the marketing with distribution mechanisms. This way, when customers need new Volvo performance parts and spares for their cars, they are readily available. What was typically a customer service problem would then be turned into an opportunity to build more loyalty.

If the sheer number of customers is the bottleneck in cases like the above, sometimes, successful launches could also be an issue. When Google launched the now-defunct Orkut social network, the website became instantly popular in countries like Brazil and India. The sheer number of visitors to the website often crashed the website. ‘Bad bad server, no donut for you’ – the message that greeted angry visitors has often been cited as the of the major reasons Orkut lost ground to newer entrants like Facebook in the emerging world.

How do you address such scenarios. The answer, as noted in the case of Volvo, lies with centralizing the marketing and infrastructure roadmaps. Businesses often launch aggressive marketing strategies without taking the toll that could have on their infrastructure into consideration. If Google had addressed the server issues of Orkut, there is possibly a chance the website still existed.

Customer service issues are often a fallout of indecisive planning and inadequate synchronization between various departments of a business. This is the bottleneck that causes frustration among customers. Addressing this would not only help address customer complaints better, but also help in turning buyers into loyal customers who will stay with you for life.

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