Satisfied customers don’t grow on trees, ripe for the picking. Yet without them, your company is doomed. Most businesses models rely on repeat customers, customer referrals, or at least, the credibility of satisfied customer testimonials. If you want your business to succeed and grow, it must attract and satisfy customers. Repeatedly.
Seems pretty straightforward, but it’s easier said than done. In most cases, you only get one chance. Few dissatisfied customers ever patronize that business again. Here’s how you can lose a new customer forever.
- Break your promise – What expectations have you set? Fail to meet that expectation and the customer is gone. For example, do you sell on quality? If so, few customers will be dissatisfied over price – they may not buy, but they’ll respect your business. But if you sell on price, as long as you are the lowest and the quality is passable, you’ll get sales, if not profits.
- Refuse to listen – Leaving aside the deeply disturbed problem cases, many customers simply want to be heard. They’ll cut you some slack if you’ll take the opportunity to make things right. Do you listen to their complaints so you can learn from them? Or do you ignore them? (Do so at your peril!).
- Make these errors repeatedly – Amazingly, I’ve seen many businesses make the same errors over and over. When those errors are in the processes that are critical to your value proposition, the business is not sustainable. Everyone understands that waiters occasionally drop a tray of dishes. They won’t avoid your restaurant if it happens. But make a mistake on your signature dish, and that diner may never return.
Tip: If your customer service doesn’t match your promises, you have two choices: (1) improve your processes so that you can deliver every time or (2) change your promises.