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Protect Your Business from Next-Gen Customers

There’s a shift in the power dynamic between business and customer. What was once a relationship is now a dictatorship, and it’s the customer who sits on the throne.

If this sounds a bit dramatic, rest assured it’s no exaggeration. Today’s customer, commonly called the iGeneration in the industry, can incinerate a company’s reputation with a single tweet or post that’s eventually shared by thousands. We’ve all seen that tweet…

“OMG I just had the WORST service at [restaurant]. Food was gross and I’ll never go back!”

Ten years ago, an upset customer at a restaurant was a one-on-one interaction. The customer tells a manager he or she didn’t enjoy the meal and the manager did what was in his or her power to rectify the situation. It was much easier back then, but not so much today. Now, with social media, the interaction is one-on-everyone. A manager has to put out the fire before it spreads to the Internet, and many business owners don’t know how to do that, leaving their businesses vulnerable to scathing reviews and negative publicity.

Protect your reputation and prepare for the iGeneration with these tips, tools and methods:

Visual Signals

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The biggest challenge with the iGeneration is they rarely voice concerns to a manager or business owner. Instead, they leave without saying a word (sometimes even appearing perfectly happy) and go straight to Twitter with a complaint. By then, it’s often too late for damage control.

Part of this is because millennials, anyone born between the 80s and early 2000s, prefer not to deal in confrontation. So because you don’t have the luxury of being called out for a complaint (and yes, that is now a luxury), it’s important to read the nonverbal cues of frustration before a customer leaves the business and see what you can do to solve the problem.

Digital Asset Management

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While the iGeneration avoids face-to-face confrontation, they embrace digital interaction like messaging and live chat. But you only have one chance to hear the complaint and follow up with a solution, so you need to make it count. Digital asset management, as the name suggests, is software to manage all of your digital files, from pictures and videos to customers and their feedback. The latter is important in this case, so you don’t lose feedback when a follow-up is needed. Think the customer is unhappy now? The iGeneration will leave an extra nasty tweet if their existing complaint receives no response.

Social Media Customer Service

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Social media isn’t this strange landscape in which business owners aren’t allowed to venture. If all the complaining is happening on social media, that’s where a large portion of customer service should live too. There is a light at the end of this digital tunnel, because these complaints are easy to find.

Does your business have a Twitter account? It should. Almost everyone who complains about your establishment online will tag it in their tweet. Use software like Hootsuite to sift through the complaints and address them head on. Not only can you squash a fire before it spreads, but everyone following your account can see just how you do business. It’s a level of transparency that only works in your favor.

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