A few years ago I listened to a customer service guru (forgot the name, sorry) talking about a certain airline that had a Boeing 727 delayed for more than 5 hours on the tarmac, before offloading the passengers and telling them they weren’t going anywhere. The police had to break up the crowd. The company was thrilled they only had three complaints. The guru pointed out “those three were the only three that cared enough about you to tell you how angry they were.”
We forget that we’re generally the last to hear about real problems. People are much more likely to ignore us when we’ve screwed up, but to walk away and never come back. Along the way, they’re probably going to tell everyone *except* us about their gripe.
It’s the nature of the beast. But a proper open marketing dialog can mitigate this, both by creating an atmosphere where there is customer expectation that their gripe will be addressed (note that I don’t say to their complete satisfaction) and also one in which others would say “that doesn’t sound like the XYZ Corp. I know.”
Chris Murray has a post on his blog about his recent experience with Sprint – entitled “The Nine Circles of Sprint.” All Sprint had to do was take the initiative and actually do something to fix the problem, and he’d be singing their praises. Now they’ve got a post about them on his site that is text book “How to destroy your brand through pitiful customer service.” They ought to make everyone in the organization read it, then run a full day session on how something like that *never* happens again.
Apathy is the enemy here. If we’re truly engaging customers, we’re going to start hearing from them, on both good and bad topics. While you might not bother to suggest to the wino on the street that AA is a good thing for him, you would certainly intervene for a friend. Maureen Rogers has a good post over at OpinionatedMarketers entitled “No Decision” which hits on the customers propensity to take no action at all.
My wife bought a parasol style Christmas tree from Paragon last year. Now, I’m not fond of the tree, but it’s exactly what she bought, so no problem. Over the summer the main pole for the tree disappeared (yes, I am the prime suspect as always). So she called Paragon to order a new one. Order, pay for, purchase, you know, spend some dollars. Paragon would have none of it. They shipped her a new one and it was shipped overnight. She tried to get them to allow her to pay the shipping but they wouldn’t hear about it. So we now have the tree up, and she hasn’t stopped talking about how great they were to her.
There are some folks in this world you cannot satisify, and honestly, she’s normally one of them. But we should think about the value they got for sending her a piece of wood via USPS Overnight. It’s well beyond the shipping cost.