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Imagine this scenario for a moment, you have a Happy Customer who is directly responsible for more than $12,000 of your referral sales. Happy customer drank the Kool-Aid and was so enthused about your product or service that they convinced 10 friends to drink the Kool-Aid too. Happy customer referred your business time and again over a four year span.
Now during that time, your business practices changed, new managers came and went and happy customer became disillusioned. Happy Customer reached out to you to try and address the concerns. However, through filters, gate keepers and sloppy practices these messages never got to you. When formerly Happy Customer finally reaches you by phone, you insist you never got the messages and then instead of listening to their now mounting concerns, you simply explain that helping them isn’t good business practices. That it is too late to make changes because it’s six months from the time of the initial concern.
You’ve now alienated an advocate and committed several potentially fatal mistakes.
First, you made it difficult for the advocate to reach you and never responded to their concerns, allowing the concerns to grow.
Second, you didn’t recognize, reward or appreciate the advocate’s past referrals and affirm their desire to continue to be a source of business for you.
Third, you blew them off. Instead of trying to find a solution that would make the customer happy again. You sealed your own fate and can guarantee that every person formerly happy customer referred to your business will hear about how you treated him. Not to mention, you’ve completely closed that lucrative referral source.
All customers and clients should be treated as if they are the life blood of your business, because they are. The ones who go above and beyond should be at minimum recognized and have their concerns addressed in a timely fashion.
Take these stats from a Knowledge@Wharton, the online business journal of the Wharton School article:
6% of shoppers who experienced a problem with a retailer contacted the company, but 31% went on to tell friends, family or colleagues what happened. Of those, 8% told one person, another 8% told two people, but 6% told six or more people.
If 100 people have a bad experience, a retailer stands to lose between 32 and 36 current or potential customers, according to the study.
48%, reported they have avoided a store in the past because of someone else’s negative experience. For those who had encountered a problem themselves, 33% said they would “definitely not” or “probably not” return.
Hell hath no fury like an advocate scorned and if you aren’t careful it could be the death of your business.
A 2005 graduate of the University of Missouri’s Journalism School, Aurora spent several years covering education-related issues in Missouri, Texas and Washington, D.C., before returning to Columbia, Mo. The active Alpha Chi Omega alumna serves as the Online Communications Coordinator for the Missouri State Teachers Association and runs a successful communications and consulting business. Outside of the office, Aurora enjoys running, and is training for her fifth half marathon. Her two biggest fans are her husband and cat, but only one of them cheers her on at all the big races.