Customer Loyalty: Handling Complaints

At the root of it all, a complaint is a gift. Why? Because it’s feedback. We don’t often receive feedback, and more often than not, companies rely on the outdated and faulty customer satisfaction survey.

Be sure to read my post on the 3 company values that lead to emotional connections with your customers. You will need to be sure you have these values firmly in place in your business and you discuss how your business is managing these values on a regular basis (like at monthly employee meetings).

If you are tempted to either (a) hide from the customer so you don’t have to deal with their issue or (b) treat the customer like a grump who doesn’t know anything, here are some tidbits based on research that demonstrate how your management of complaints impacts not only your repeat sales, but also your chances for referral business.

  • If a customer has a minor problem and it is handled quickly, 95% will repurchase
    from your business; 82% will purchase again even if it is a major problem that has been resolved.
  • If the problem is not resolved and the problem was a major one, only 14% will
    repurchase.

A complaint is a gift and an opportunity to show the customer how
good your organization really is. It also provides important information on how
you can get better by changing a process or improving a procedure to prevent a
repeat occurrence with this customer or any others!

Keeping track of complaints therefore becomes a very important function within your company’s internal processes. You need to have your complaint management system in place now, before you have a complaint and if you are in the middle of managing a complaint. The steps you follow are these:

  • Thank the customer for bringing this to your attention
  • Offer an apology
  • THEN find out the cause of your customer’s issue

The thank you and the apology create a huge emotional shift in your customer’s
mind. It shows a great deal of empathy and sends a strong message that the most
important consideration is how the customer feels rather than who did what to
create the problem. If your customer feels someone at your company cares about them, they are less likely to blame your company for problems.

Business Coach? They have one for that.

To say we watch a lot of sports at our house is an understatement. It often seems to me that if the show does not include someone in a black and white striped shirt with a whistle, we don’t watch it.

While listening to this weekend’s golf tournament, I heard the announcer talk about a golfer and how this golfer’s attitude coach had really helped the golfer to overcome a recent tournament loss.

Hmmm, I thought. An attitude coach? A swing coach? A business coach? They probably have a putting coach, too. It sounds to me like the sports world is more in tune with the benefits of business coaching than the business world.

In reality, the professional athletes are businesses worth millions of dollars. Their investors – from sponsors to managers – have a vested interest in seeing the athlete be in top mental condition for the match, whatever it is.

What happened to business? If business is smart enough to insist on coaches for athletes, why isn’t business smart enough to insist on coaches for the people working for the business?

Do you know what a disengaged employee costs you? You should. It would scare you. I recently facilitated a group on Customer Loyalty in a Social Media World, and we walked through the numbers. The class participants were amazed at how much money they were wasting on disengaged employees who had bad attitudes.

So here’s where the rubber meets the road. How much is your attitude hurting your business?  Here is a quick quiz you can use to test yours.

Please answer yes or no for each question. As you will see, every no represents an opportunity to change your attitude.

1. Is my current mood free from any negative experience from the past? Yes ( ) No ( )

2. Is my current mood hopeful and optimistic in anticipation of the future? Yes ( ) No ( )

3. Do I currently feel that I am in control of my life? Yes ( ) No ( )

4. Do I feel that the problems I am currently facing are really stimulating challenges? Yes ( ) No ( )

5. Do I feel free from self-abuse, such as overeating, drinking, or using drugs? Yes ( ) No ( )

6. Do I currently pursue a realistic and challenging goal? Yes ( ) No ( )

7. Am I committed to an ongoing exercise program? Yes ( ) No ( )

8. Are my family relationships a source of love, pride, and support? Yes ( ) No ( )

9. Do I consider myself a success? Yes ( ) No ( )

10. Are my thoughts stimulated by positive people, books, videos, and personal role models? Yes ( ) No ( )

11. Do I seek out challenges that are in line with my present potential? Yes ( ) No ( )

12. Do I automatically look for the positive in every situation? Yes ( ) No ( )

Rating scale: 10-12 yes answers: Congratulations! Your positive attitude is helping you win. 6-9 yes answers: Several negative attitudes are inhibiting your performance. Begin your personal attitude-improvement program by talking with us. 5 or fewer yes answers: Reach out to us today to get your attitude on track for the success you are ready to realize.

What are you waiting for?

 

 

Loyal customers lead to easier profits

customer loyaltyGet customers. Get more customers. Make more money. Isn’t this how business works?

What if I told you that your existing customers are the best source for profits through more sales? You might not believe me. You might ask me to tell you why sales to existing customers can lead to more profits and how you can position yourself to take advantage of sales to existing customers. OK. I will.

People buy on emotion more than need. You want to be in the position of being the business that someone thinks of when they are ready to purchase. Why? Because people buy from businesses they trust. Your task as a manager or business owner is to establish the points of connection you and your staff will use to build trust with your existing customers so they think of you first when they are ready to purchase your product or service. This calls for a plan or a schedule so you connect with your customers on a regular basis and build emotional value through a relationship with your customers.

There are three important values for businesses to develop in order to create emotional value with the customer:

  • Connectivity – You and your entire staff have to be connected and in sync, so senior managers are connected to junior managers, etc. Another way to think of this is that everyone has to be working toward the same end result, and everyone has to know what that desired end result is.
  • Creativity – You have to let your people solve the problems. Your people have to be empowered to make decisions that solve the problems and preserve the trust your customer has in you. If you’ve ever rented a car from Enterprise, you’ve experienced this creativity in action.
  • Integrity – You have to deliver what you promise. If you don’t, you’re never going to have loyal customers or loyal employees.

People buy from people they trust. They buy more because of you than because of your product or service. Developing your customer loyalty strategy is a huge competitive advantage you should explore to grow your business, especially when I tell you this:

It costs your 4 times as much money to find a new customer than to sell to a loyal customer.

If you’ve built trust with the customer and your staff, you’ve establishd your points of connection, and you’ve worked to develop the three values described above, then you are on you way.

Honey vs. Vinegar

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

I don’t know who said this, but it is most definitely true when it comes to retaining customers and attracting new ones. Since it costs you 4 times as much (or maybe more) to gain a new customer, retaining your existing customers quickly becomes a priority.

Do you know your customers’ opinion of doing business with you? This is not about “satisfied” responses to surveys you might send out post-sale or your impression of how successful the sale was based on the dollar value of the sale. This is about the willingness of your customers to refer your business to their friends and family.

Research has proven that if your customers are only “satisfied” with their purchasing experience with you, they are not referring their friends and family to your business like they will when you adjust your customer service practices and measurements to make sure your customers are having the experience they want to have with their purchase.

Be sure your front line people – from the person answering the phone to the person greeting people who enter your business – possess the natural talents, skills, and empowerment to competently manage the sales process for your business. You are going to need to take an in-depth look at both the natural talents of your staff and your sales process in order to understand how well you are doing.

Then you need to ask one question of each customer: Will you refer our business/service to your friends and family?