Customer Service Training Program Guidelines
The Power of Open Consumer Feedback

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In the dynamic new world we live in, we might almost be forgiven for thinking that we are enslaved by technology and run over on the information highway. Yet, the other way of looking at it is how technology and all those doses of free-flowing information have empowered us, in ways previously unimaginable.

Nowhere is this new power bestowed on us more pronounced than in the world of business and marketing. The Internet has given a whole new impetus to viral and word of mouth marketing; in fact, one could say that it has led to the resurrection of these age old marketing methods. Today, news about a company or business- both good and bad- flows so quickly and with such momentum that it has the potency to create or destroy businesses.

Businesses that don't listen to what their consumers are saying and how the society rates them are bound to fail, sooner rather than later. In fact, consumer feedback and its impact on branding has become a recurring theme amongst marketing thinkers recently. A growing number of books and case studies highlight the correlation between the success of companies that are in tune with their customers' needs and feedback, or the rapid decline or fall from grace of companies that do not take customer feedback as seriously.

Most companies do have their own mechanisms to gather customer feedback in an organized and structured manner, but unfortunately many of these feedback mechanisms are designed to tell the companies what they really want to hear. Companies would be foolish to ignore the subtle signals from the market or the muffled voices of disillusioned customers floating around the Internet.

Such public feedback forums certainly have their skeptics and critics who question the creditability of comments that are not moderated. Anyone can say anything about anyone and get away with it, they say. Yet, these skeptics need to understand that the general public seems to have an uncanny knack of discerning right and wrong, and separating the genuine from the fake. Simply put, despite the susceptibility to manipulation, there seems to be a kind of auto-correction in operation that ensures that businesses can ignore their consumer sentiments voiced over public forums at their own peril. These bits of criticism should be incorporated into their customer service training program immediately.

Companies would do well to realize and accept at least the spirit of the statement: Business is for the consumer, by the consumer, of the consumer.

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