Reducing the risk of creating dissatisfied customers

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We’ve all heard the truism that for every one person a happy customer tells about their positive experience with you, a dissatisfied customer tells ten people (or 100, or 1000) about their negative experience.

Said another way, it is more costly to win an angry customer back than it is to invest in keeping them happy and loyal in the first place.

What business owners fail to do is seize opportunities to provide “concierge service” to their current customer base. What I mean is, think of ways you can provide unexpected value to your customers in order to retain their loyalty, even if you make a mistake later. I’m not talking about giving them discounts. I’m talking about providing value that they didn’t expect from you. I think this is a great way to reduce the risk of losing customers.

You have several options if you’ve created a dissatisfied customer. You can:

  • Ignore them, and hope they’ll quietly go away
  • Ignore them, and simply pursue new customers
  • Pay attention to them, and correct the issues that alienated them

I have my own take on customer loyalty. From a Learning perspective:

  • Include a customer loyalty or customer awareness module in all of your new employee orientation trainings.
  • Make explicit the link between each employee’s specific job duties and the role they play in providing customers with a positive experience of your company.

From a quality perspective:

  • Product or services “defects” are within your control to manage. Any business of any size can take action to reduce defects. And remember, investing resources here is cheaper than the cost of losing customers or trying to win them back.
  • Make your initial contact with customers “error proof” as far as providing value goes. In process improvement circles, this is known as “poka-yoke,” a Japanese term for mistake-proofing. Think of the value of making certain a customer’s first experience with you is error free.

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