Thanks to the continuous public inner monologue known as social media, the human urge to share one’s experiences means that a single customer encounter – positive or negative – can reverberate across thousands of screens in a matter of seconds. This instant customer feedback can apply to anything from being charged an extra £50 for overweight luggage to passionately chiming in to declare your Apple loyalty when a friend asks for advice on smartphones.
Budget airlines and high-tech gadgets aside, no matter what kind of business you’re running, you have to weigh whether those proverbial extra £50 fees add up to enough to counter the negative reactions they inspire. It really depends on if your product holds the equivalent attraction of a £15 flight to Venice to keep angry customers coming back for more. Where an e-commerce business is concerned, it would be easy to make the case that when it comes to service, the digital customer experience is king. And let’s be realistic, if your potential sale gets abandoned due to slow load times it would be hard to argue otherwise.
Hidden charge rage is easy enough to avoid, and having this kind of software for an online shop will assure a seamless, secure credit card transaction, not to mention a visibility on numerous platforms. But if you want to inspire Apple-level worship you need more than this. You need a level of customer service that goes beyond expectations. That’s when you’ll see social media posts like the one below.
John (not his real name), writing on Facebook:
“Naked Wines is the best company that ever existed, part 14 or something. Two days ago, I order a huge case of wine. Yesterday, Naked posted something about the latest freebie offer (they give regulars a monthly free bottle as long as we make an order). A magnum of something marvellous. I posted ‘And I just put in a big order yesterday. Missed it!’”
The company’s response? Because his shipment had already been sent and they didn’t want to risk the 1.5 L bottle breaking if sent on its own, they simply offered him a refund (note: not a store credit) for the value of the gift. Even though the special wasn’t even on offer when he had placed his order.
Needless to say, John was delighted. This wasn’t the first time he had taken to social media to sing Naked Wines’ praises. And he didn’t stop there. He went on to describe several other occasions when the company went out of its way to reward his custom and finished by offering his friends a referral discount. One friend commented, “That kind of customer service makes me want to move to England and start drinking wine.”
Enthusiasm such as this is what so many multi-level marketing schemes attempt to duplicate but fall far short on. That’s because it’s easy to tell the difference between genuine brand enthusiasm and when someone is trying to sell you something because they aim to make a profit. It’s not often in life we’re given something without the expectation of reciprocity, but that’s how really good customer service should come across. It should feel like, “We’re taking care of you, the customer, because we genuinely care about your experience with our company.” And it’s precisely when customers feel valued in this way that they look for opportunities to proselytise for a brand.
There’s a popular misconception that e-commerce businesses can’t succeed in delivering that kind of service to achieve such a degree of brand loyalty. But companies like Naked Wines are proving that thinking very wrong. Hats off to them.