LisBiz Strategies: Is your satisfied customer ruining your business?

Home Columns LisBiz Strategies: Is your satisfied customer ruining your business?

Nov. 4/11 2013; Volume 27/number 14

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Lisbeth Calandrino

Years ago, people considered customer service an even exchange of goods. You gave me $10 worth of goods, I gave you $10 and we were even. Today I expect $12 in return; that’s called “added value.”

Nowadays an even exchange is the price of doing business; it has nothing to do with customer service. In other words, if you’re in business, you are expected to do certain things.

Customer service has had little to do with selling products because customers are pretty much sold on what they want to buy before they get to your place of business. What they’re not sold on—here’s your opportunity—is whether they want to do business with you and your store.

Customer service is how you treat the customer in all phases of the sale. It has much to do with how you treat her before she comes into your store, and after she leaves. This is where businesses fall short.

Company executives often believe that if customers don’t complain, everything is fine. However, according to the US Department of Commerce, 96% of unhappy customers never complain—they just go away mad. Consumers know companies have to rely on referral business for the majority of new prospects, so there are lots of dissatisfied customers who are simply not recommending businesses after negative experiences.

Don’t mistake silence for satisfaction and thus good will. Businesses that “bite the dust” often provide statistics that show 65% of their customers are satisfied.

For every customer who bothers to complain, there are 26 others who remain silent. The average “wronged” customer will tell 8 to 16 people about her negative experience. Each of your customers has a circle of influence of 250 potential customers who may hear unflattering things about you!

Gauging customer satisfaction

It is easy for businesses to do “live” surveys, but instead some company you’ve never heard of often conducts them. A friend of mine just paid quite a bit of money to have a company survey 2,000 potential customers. She told the company who she thought would provide referrals to her business. Frankly, after looking at her list, I had several reasons why many on her list wouldn’t refer business.

How can you tell what your customers are thinking if you don’t talk with them after they’re sold? If their job is to refer new customers, how will they remember you? This is why meaningful content is so important. You have to engage these possible “salespeople,” your old customers, so they will remember you when a friend asks, “Where can I buy floor covering?” Why would you think they would remember you if you disappear after they make purchases?

Don’t assume that “quiet” customers are happy or delighted; they just aren’t talking.

Commission your salespeople to keep a list of their customers and follow up after the sale. Get some type of CMS that regularly brings up customers’ names and reminds you that it’s time to make contact. Don’t forget the holidays and your customers’ special occasions. The more you can find out about your customers, the better. This way, you will seem sincere rather than just a pest who is looking for more business

No news is not good news. Unless you’re talking to your customers, you have no idea what “no news” means.


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