April 18, 2012
After 31 years of loyalty, I was ready to jump ship.
By Maureen McCabe
The past three weeks have been technologically brutal. First, my desktop was infected with a Trojan Horse. Then Bell Canada cut off my landline in error, and three days later the internet stopped working – without notice.
Bell provided inferior support throughout my crisis despite being a loyal landline customer since 1981. Only when I escalated and advised I was ready to switch all three services, a technical support guru was sent to fix the problems they created. After the situation was resolved, they justifiably earned the lowest rating possible in every category on their customer satisfaction survey.
The following three pre-defined strategies helped me overt what could have been a crisis with my customers – and – prospective customers.
Crisis Tip 1: Marketing Communications Strategy
Reduce customer frustration and dissatisfaction by communicating regularly and truthfully. If you made the error – it’s okay to be human – but own up to it. Let people plan their work around the missed deadlines – or in my case technology outages.
Set new expectations. Even if it’s what we used to call at IBM a “date for a date”… I’ll tell you on Wednesday the date you can expect the work completed.
A comprehensive Outlook address book and calendar is only useful when you sync it regularly. My Blackberry was a lifesaver. Without it – I could not have provided status updates. Yes, I missed deadlines and commitments, but my customers knew in advance and understood why. To be candid: I found my updates unbelievable in the space of 3 weeks I had Google mail problems, a Trojan virus, and landline and internet issues.
Crisis Tip 2: Technology Backup Process
If you lost your computer, internet access, and address book – how would you communicate with customers?
In March I participated in Manta’s “Tweet Chat” for small and medium (SMB) owners. I was passionate about one question posed regarding the top technical tip for business owners. My tweet – #1 tip is a remote hard drive backup process. You’ll lose sales without your client data!
Like you, most business owners don’t have the budget for a dedicated IT person. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or you have only a handful of employees, you must have an IT strategy. It’s good business and insurance. A remote hard drive that is backed up nightly or at least a few times a week is quintessential – this is my favourite word which means the most essential of the essentials. Perhaps, “cloud computing” is a good backup option for you to explore.
I strongly recommend that you engage an IT support company, there are a number of good companies with affordable monthly packages. You will get better service when you have a plan. A professional full-time company with staff vs. a one person shop is likely your better option.
Thanks to my IT support team at easyTechCare my desktop was rebuilt and all files were easily reinstalled. The Trojan Horse was a set-back; it did not critically or permanently damage my business.
Crisis Tip 3: Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great communication tools to promote your brand, to drive sales leads to your website, and to communicate with your customers. It is important to realize not all of them use social media regularly – if at all. Personal emails and phone calls to my clients were more appropriate, although I did post a few updates online.
When researching a prospective supplier or product, you can research how they have handled customer satisfaction issues. How did customers respond? Determine if this the right supplier (I regard them as “partners”) that you want to rely on for your business?
I am grateful to my clients for their understanding during this unprecedented period. Thank you.
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