Customer Service VS Customer Care
Market research has shown that most of us would switch rather than fight:
96% of unhappy customers say nothing to their now former supplier; they simply don’t return. Instead, they tell their sad story to approximately nine or ten of their friends. 13% actually tell 20 or more people.
Of the courageous 4% that do complain, 95% stay with their current vendor when their problem is resolved quickly and to their satisfaction. In fact, they perceive the remedy to be so remarkable that they typically remark positively about it to five of their friends.
Contrast this with satisfied clients, who usually say nothing or at the most tell one or two friends about you and your products.
The bottom line: complaining customers should be cherished as valuable partners helping you improve and grow your business.
Additional research identified the reasons that customers left:
1% - Death
3% - Moved Away
5% - Buy from a friend
9% - Sold by competitor
14% - Product/Price issues
68% - Perceived indifference
PERCEIVED INDIFFERENCE: Two out of three unhappy customers complained with their feet about the quality of their relationship with you. They just didn’t feel you cared enough about them.
There are five basic steps all companies go through to sell and deliver their goods and services to their customers:
- Marketing: Identify suspects in your target market and communicate your brand message to them to attract qualified leads.
- Sales: Listen to the prospects to determine their wants and needs and then educate them on the features and benefits of your products, thus helping them to make an informed decision about what to buy.
- Operations: Deliver your product, and in doing so fulfill the customer’s order.
- Customer Care: Help the customer install, operate, and maintain your delivered product. Proactive and reactive education is key to helping the customer understand and appreciate the full value of what they purchased.
- Finance: Make it easy for the customer to understand and pay their bill (Accounts Receivable) and, in turn, pay your bills (Accounts Payable).
Any leakage in your marketing and sales process represents a missed opportunity to gain new customers but usually does not sully your reputation. Disappointed former customers created by leakage in your delivery process damage your brand in addition to wasting the time and money invested to acquire those customers.
Extensive market research on consumer satisfaction conducted by the Gallup Company has been published widely in a series of management and marketing books (most notably First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman). They observed that customer’s feelings about their relationship with their vendors are organized in a hierarchy of four discrete levels:
- Passion (Inspiration)
- Pride (Mutual Respect)
- Justice (Fair Treatment)
- Confidence (Trust and Dependability)
Attainment of lower levels is required to progress on to higher levels. Customers leaving due to product or price issues (14% of respondents from the previously cited research study) are either not confident that they are receiving good value or are unhappy with how their problems were handled; i.e. levels one and two challenges.
Customer sophistication is relatively high these days, so most customers are not overly impressed with stopping here. Former customers citing perceived indifferences are complaining that they feel disrespected and they fear that you may take unfair advantage of them (the relationship doesn’t feel win-win).
To move beyond satisfied customers to raving fans requires a shift in their feelings. At level 3, customers feel good about you and your products and are proud to be your client. At level 4, customers feel better about themselves as a consequence of being your client. The following statements, when answered positively, indicate a raving fan:
- Your company is the perfect company for people like me - YES!
- I can’t imagine a world without your company - YES!
Most of us know people who are raving fans of Apple Computer, Starbucks, or a favorite auto manufacturer. Ask them if they agree with the two statements above to confirm it.
So what is the secret formula for customer care to create a positive and memorable experience that demonstrates that you do care? In his recent book Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Jeffrey Gitomer advocates:
- REACT: Tell them that you understand how they feel and ask them to tell you more. Then LISTEN, patiently and empathetically.
- RESPOND: Apologize to them and thank them for coming forward. Ask them what they think is fair.
- RECOVER: Resolve their issue quickly and completely.
- +1 - Add a bonus as "Customer Insurance": to ensure that the story (they tell) will be positive and the customer will be saved.” For example, “you check into a hotel and your room isn’t ready. The clerk says ‘Mr. Smith, you’re in luck! Your room isn’t ready. That means you get to eat breakfast for free AND (the plus) use our business center for free!’ WOW!”
Gitomer writes “Customers don’t make up stories about you. You do, by what you say and do. Customers simply retell them. A customer will either say something good about you, nothing about you or something bad about you. By your words and actions you determine what they say.”
But why wait to make lemonade until you have a customer complaining about receiving a lemon? What can you do to shape a remarkable experience with each “normal” customer interaction? How can you WOW your customers every day? How do you answer the phone? How do you take a message? How do you greet customers and prospects when they come to your store or office? Upon delivery of your product, do you thank them and tell them that you appreciate their business? What can you do to help them look and feel better?
Imagine arriving five minutes early for your appointment and being shown immediately into your private relaxation room. A waterfall in the corner is filling the room with soothing sounds that harmoniously mix with the gentle music playing in the background. You sit in a relaxing massage chair with your favourite beverage as you wait. An attendant quietly enters the room and prepares a hot paraffin wax treatment for your hands. Just another session at your local day spa? No, you are about to get your teeth cleaned at Dr Scott Young’s dental practice.
Patti Coppola, owner of ISOFitness and one of Dr. Young’s patients, gushed “In the past, I didn’t enjoy going to the dentist. Now I really look forward to it. THANK YOU, Dr. Young!”
You might ask: What does this have to do with good dentistry? NOTHING! What does this have to do with good business and great customer care? EVERYTHING! You may not have the type of business where you can deliver spa-like treatment to your customers, but you can certainly find interesting ways to inspire them, provide exceptional service, and WOW them.
Be thoughtful and creative; not only will they return, they will tell raving tales about you to their friends.