Business people are aware of the fact that a satisfied customer might share a positive experience with a handful of people, but a dissatisfied customer will share their disappointment with dozens. In today’s digital/social media society this fact is ever more true. So, the challenge for every business is to convert a mistake or an unhappy customer into a marketing opportunity. Here are some simple steps to create the most cost effective and impactful marketing opportunities out of mistakes:
- Make sure you’re organization has a very focused and consistent method for assessing customer satisfaction. If you don’t know they are dissatisfied, you can’t execute a strategy to convert them. Today’s business people have a variety of inexpensive tools to assess customer satisfaction. These can be technology solutions like net promoter software or a consistent call center strategy to follow up with every customer. The key is consistency.
- Make sure the staff who is responding to disgruntled customers has the proper training. Their goal should not be to placate the customer, but rather the goal should be to address the customer’s concerns quickly and thoroughly. Everyone involved in responding to customer dissatisfaction has to be focused on making sure they thoroughly understand the customer’s concerns and articulate, in clear terms, what they are going to do to correct the situation. Those involved must remain neutral and focus on the facts from the customer’s point of view. It is critical that the people involved in this process are properly empowered to bring about a solution.
- Have regular meetings or sessions with customer-facing individuals and operations staff to review all areas of customer dissatisfaction and look for opportunities to change processes or systems to eliminate the frequency of dissatisfaction.
- Follow up with the customer to ensure that everything that was promised was delivered. This follow up is critical in the effort to convert the dissatisfied customer into a fan. In my experience, I have seen dozens of situations where an unhappy or dissatisfied customer has become the company’s best advocate by describing how quickly and thoroughly the problem or mistake that they experienced was addressed.
As you’re reading this, if it all sounds very expensive, it’s not nearly as expensive as constantly having to acquire new customers. No matter how large or small your organization is, the best source for new customers is the positive support of your existing customers. Everyone in business is familiar with The Leaking Bucket, but your response to customer dissatisfaction ultimately determines how big the hole will be. Mistakes and problems are marketing opportunities and everyone should look at them as the opportunity to grow the business rather than a problem that just needs to be managed.