More often than not, most of us complain – long and loud – about our crummy cable TV provider, airline, computer, big screen TV, car or appliance either until satisfaction blooms or we throw up our hands in disgust. After that, we begin earnestly warning friends and family to stay away from that particular swamp of customer service horrors.
While researching perspective on a retail appliance chain for a future blog post, I came across a web site that appears to be a collection point for customer disappointment and disgust. The more moans and groans I read – across a wide variety of business categories, the more it seemed clear that the business of this online enterprise (http://www.consumeraffairs.com )was to gather customer complaints, present the brand with its low customer satisfaction rating (especially if the business is a retailer that depends on manufacturers to service their products) and then sell a mediation service to the businesses in question, thus helping convert unhappy customers to happy ones. They also presented useful articles on their site about lemon laws, scams and the like – altogether a pretty reasonable information-based product that, at the very least, allows customers to vent their customer service disappointments (and presumably brag about customer service pluses) for all to see.
But why can’t businesses do this for themselves – like the Kohl’s and Oreck experiences I cited recently in this blog (http://www.brianefaulkner.com/1/post/2014/02/mr-grumpy-gets-his-due.html )? Why shouldn’t they “own” both the customer service issues and the assets that likely will accrue from resolving them? Like a client of mine years ago who had a small plane and delighted in flying errant orders to his photographer customers across the state, converting what could have been near anger into something approaching awe.
A fast-food client once told me that for every customer turned off at retail, six more never show up. That may be a bit exaggerated, suggests an article aimed at call center CFOs (http://www.netpicker.net/EducatingtheCFOonBasicCusavio.html , which cites the loss of one customer for every five who encounter problems, although their research also found that customers who are “completely satisfied” because their problem got solved sometimes exhibited greater loyalty than customers who experienced no problems at all. But they also discovered that only 40% of customers with problems eventually are satisfied while 25% remain dissatisfied, and 70% of the dissatisfied ones never return.
“Fifty-percent of consumers and 25 percent of business customers who have problems never complain to anyone at the company,” they discovered, and worse, “most of those customers who do complain will grumble to the cashier, the gate agent, the delivery person, or the field sales rep.” They report that “when your product or service has a retail distribution channel (e.g., insurance agents, supermarkets, local copier distributor), less than 15 percent of all the problems and sometimes as little as 1 percent of the complaints” typically get through a formal customer service system.
That leaves a lot of unwashed laundry on the floor!
So where do you stand? What is your company doing to create loyal customers through business-building customer service intervention?
TakeAway: One happy customer in hand may mean five more in the bush.