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Bad (and good!) news travels fast - Why delivering good customer service is essential in the age of social media.

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There’s no doubt about it.
The age of social media truly has placed the power in the customer’s hand. Like never before, consumers are swapping and sharing stories of their experiences of companies with an ever-growing audience - and it all happens in an instant.

This new found strength of the customer’s voice can, we believe, be no better illustrated than by the story of disgruntled airline passenger Dave Carroll. When, back in 2009, Carroll flew with United Airlines alongside his now infamous guitar, little did he know the full extent of the journey he was embarking on. If you’re familiar with the story, you’ll no doubt have heard his song ‘United Break Guitars’ in which he chronicles the experience of having his guitar broken by the alleged rough treatment of the airline’s baggage handlers and his subsequent poor customer service experience.

Posted as a protest song on Youtube after he failed to secure compensation from the company, it went viral, amassing 150,000 views within one day. It has now been viewed a staggering 12.5 million times, with some estimating it may have reached an audience of up to 100 million. Eventually, after much public embarrassment, United Airlines agreed to pay $3500 worth of compensation as a donation in Carroll’s name to support music education, as well as paying him a licencing fee to use the video for in-house customer service training. Such was the popularity of the video, Carroll has now written a book about his experiences and is in demand as a speaker on customer service. Overall, there’s little doubt that the whole episode was nothing short of a public relations disaster for the airline.

Whilst of course we can’t all take to a guitar every time we experience poor customer service, the story highlights some valuable lessons that businesses simply cannot afford to ignore.  In the age of social media, bad news really does travel quickly. The customer’s voice is louder than ever before, meaning any negative experiences of your company can spread like wild fire. As United Airlines found, there really is nowhere to hide.

Fortunately however, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Just as stories of dissatisfaction can travel rapidly, so can the better ones. To help ensure it’s only the great experiences of your business that are talked about, now more than ever, it’s vital to deliver good customer service.

If your business’s customer service record is not yet outstanding, now really is the time to make the improvements required to ensure it’s only your praises that customers are singing!

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Published on 19/11/2012 by Emma Harle.

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