Relationship, referral, retention, reputation and recovery

The new normal evolved with e-customer service. It is no secret that the moment organisations move over to digital platforms so did their customer service. Customers are interested in the moral standing of the organisation they intend to do business with and there is no better department to do that other than that of customer service.

This department is the window of the organisation and its actions are considered to be a true reflection of the organisation. The way they interact with the customers at various touch points are good enough to tell a story about the organisation and mirrors its way of doing business.

Big companies face challenges with their brands almost all the time.  Multinational companies like Nestle and Toyota are good examples of organisations that have come under fire at one time over issues with their brands. The challenges range from brands failing to meet the customer expectations, defects on the product or failure by the organisation’s staff to offer good customer service.

In all the cases, customers are the ones who suffer the most through dissatisfaction. Once one is dissatisfied, he or she may promise that they will never ever want to deal or be associated with that particular brand again.

Nonetheless, how one opts to deal with brand dissatisfaction entirely rests with the customer affected. Some may ask to see the next person with a position higher than the person they are dealing with or they may just stop patronising the brand quietly. Nonetheless, some may select the highway which is the worst-case scenario where they may opt to announce the sad experience to the world.

The easiest and fastest way used by dissatisfied customers to get the attention of the world is through posting hash negative reviews on social media platforms. These reviews affect the brand of the company in the eyes of their customers and many brands have paid heavily to these slacks in e-customer service.

Hell, hath no fury like a dissatisfied customer, some customers care less about taking down organisations that cross their paths the wrong way. Remember, if the organisation lack fire guards the bad reviews will spread fast like the veld fires. Thereby hurting the brand in the process

For instance, just a week ago a big Kwekwe based milk producing company was under attack on twitter from dissatisfied customers over the quality of their milk. One customer had to name and shame the organisation after buying their milk which now has a very short life span and a whole lot of its customers where now accusing them of food poisoning. The bad news was retweeted so many times and shared among a legion of the company’s customers and potential customers.

In e-commerce, customer service focuses mainly on the 3Rs that is retention, referrals and reputation but another two were added by James Barnes in his 2000 book “Secrets of Customer Relationship Management: Its All About How You Make Them Feel” and these are relationship and recovery.


Exceptional customer service not only aid in goodwill but it is also a valuable resource that is used as a competitive advantage by online organisations. Remember in the digital world, it is all about convenience and accessibility. When these are achieved chances are high that customers will come back for repeat purchases. It is well known that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain the already existing customers. Thus, online organisations are always trying to offer top notch customer service as a way of cutting pesky customer acquisition costs while creating loyal customers in the process.

Some organisations have started loyalty programmes which are meant to extend the lifecycle of the existing customers and convert them to loyal customers. Such customers are normally frequent purchasers who have above average spending habits. It is their buying pattern that increases their customer lifetime value, a key metric when measuring success.


Happiness is infectious and a happy customer is that customer that is content with the service rendered to them by the organisation. Such a customer will definitely refer other customers because of the superior service they received. It is undeniably that referrals provide organisations with free marketing through word of mouth. Satisfied or delighted customers always spend more and spread some loves and likes on the organisation’s social media platforms. Also, whenever there is a chance to refer someone to the organisation, these referrals act like affiliates or brand advocates ready to always recommend the organisation’s e-commerce brand.


They say the first cut is the deepest so are first impressions in business. They matter the most and the way customers are handled when they visit the organisation’s digital platforms mold its reputation. It could be the way the organisation’s customer service responds to customers’ concerns that can shred the reputation into pieces or build it up.

Applications like live chats provide quick responses in real time and can help organisations to respond in a timeous manner.

Organisations need to increase the value and integrity of the brand reputation through excellent service delivery that is before, during and after sales service support. A good reputation tends to transcend the price of the brand. Customers are always willing to pay that extra dollar to a company that they trust will deliver according to the customer expectations. Knowledge about the importance of building a good reputation is the reason why some organisations like Coca-Cola remain on top of their game and ahead of their market challengers.

However, when customers continue to receive bad customer service, they become frustrated and cannot wait to leave the organisation and try its competitors. Poor customer service kills the brand reputation and may cause the organisation to collapse. Generally, customers do not want to associate with organisations that has a bad reputation.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461