Don’t let a communications breakdown cost you customers

An incident with my business bank reminded me of a problem that may be silently hurting businesses, perhaps even yours.

I had a question about the charge for check printing, and decided to use the handy feedback form on the contact page of their Web site to send a query. I filled out the form, hit Submit, then waited. And waited.

Having worked in sales and customer service for years, I’m always curious to see how a business responds to a complaint or question. I had done my part by submitting the message. Now it was up to the bank to research the matter and respond.

After a couple weeks went by and still no response, I called one of their branches. Fortunately, a very helpful and conscientious manager answered the phone and offered to call the main office. She learned that there was no record of my message. Apparently, it was gone for good.

That’s amazing, and a bit troubling if you work for the bank. Granted, they probably receive dozens of messages a day, many of which are junk. But a careful review of incoming mail should identify the legitimate messages hidden among the garbage.

If I had not called to follow up, the bank never would have had the chance to respond to my query. I would have remained an unhappy customer, and somewhat inclined to jump ship. Worse (for the bank), I’d be less likely to recommend the institution to others.

Think about your Web site. You probably offer some sort of reply form on your contact page. Do you capture and track the messages? Is someone–ideally, more than one person–assigned to monitor the Inbox for these messages? Do you test the process periodically by sending through a comment?

Don’t assume that all is well. A lack of feedback may signal a problem that needs to be addressed. Failure to do so could cost you. Customers today are rather fickle and demanding.

A product of the computer age, they expect Web-based processes to perform flawlessly, and they expect immediate replies to their messages. They are not afraid to take their business elsewhere if they encounter problems; loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Some argue that customers complain more today. Perhaps, but that just means you have to be more responsive to remain competitive.

For some suggestions on how to build your business, see “Exploit your firm’s strengths to maximize marketing efforts.”

Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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