After spending a few hours with my car this morning, I was reminded of a marketing truth.
On my way home from running a few errands, I slid into a snowy, shallow ditch at the top of my road, and then struggled for twenty minutes to push my car out as dozens of drivers passed by me.
Finally, a nice guy in a pickup truck stopped to give me a hand.
When I got home I told my wife what happened, going on and on about all the people who had driven by without even slowing down.
But what I DIDN’T tell her was how, earlier that morning, the owner of a car care center here in town performed a diagnostic check on my car…free of charge.
I DIDN’T tell her how the very friendly technician at another shop flushed my radiator twice because it was so dirty…for no extra charge.
I DIDN’T tell her how the counter guy at the auto parts place cheerfully came out to replace my windshield wipers…free of charge.
Instead, I focused on the negative.
Driving into a ditch was nobody’s fault but mine, yet I came home and griped about all the people who DIDN’T stop to help, instead of focusing on the Good Samaritan who pulled me out.
The marketing truth is this: one bad experience can trump even many positive experiences in the mind of a customer.
As unfair as it may be, you can lose a hard-won revenue stream for life if you or someone on your team falls down on the job. And if that customer strings together two or three bad episodes with your company, your name might as well be Mud to everyone he knows – and anyone who reads his online review.
The good news for you is that every company makes mistakes. Companies are made up of people, after all, so mistakes are bound to happen, and most customers understand that.
What they don’t understand and what they won’t tolerate is your poorly handled response to their bad experience, whether it’s an insensitive CSR, your inflexible policies, or a perceived indifference toward them as a paying customer.
So, to promote more positive experiences and successfully address any bad experiences customers may bring to your attention, keep these three suggestions in mind.
1) Make sure your CSRs, operators, and other frontline employees are empowered to “make things right.” Don’t push away an angry customer by making her call another department for answers, or worse, not offering any solutions as a company.
2) Check to see if you have any service or return policies in place that are not customer-centric. If so, get rid of them, or at least re-work them as quickly as possible.
3) Finally - it’s an oldie but a goody - the customer is king (or queen). Make sure your team lives and breathes that one. Your customers keep you in business, and if you don’t treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve, especially after they’ve had a poor experience with your company, your competitors will be happy to.