It’s been said that on average a happy customer or client will share their experience with three other people, while a negative experience will be retold upwards of 6 to 7 times.
I readily admit I don’t have the scientific numbers to prove whether the above claim is true or not, but I can tell you that if there’s even the slightest smidgen of truth in it I don’t want to find out for sure! Do you? No, of course you don’t.
Maybe it’s because I speak and coach clients on how to build strong relationships with their customers, and as a result make more sales & greater profits in their businesses, but as you might expect I hear more than my fair share of customer service stories (The good, the bad, and at times the downright ugly).
The following story illustrates not only how important it is to take seriously the way we treat our past customers, but it also shows just how easy it is to blow what could otherwise be a lasting win, win situation for everyone involved.
A friend shared the following story with me.
About 3 months ago my friend went into a local car dealership in our local area and purchased a car, he was absolutely delighted with every aspect of the purchase.
The salesperson was perfect, the car was to his liking, all it seemed was wonderful. Except for one tiny detail, which as you will see shouldn’t have ever been allowed to develop into a problem in the first place — but I’m jumping ahead of the story.
It turns out during the car transaction the salesperson mentioned that my buddy would get his first oil change at no charge. All he would need to do is to call her (the salesperson) when the first oil change was due.
Three months passed, and all the while my friend had been happily sharing the positive experience he had from buying the car.
Then the customer no-service nightmare begins (and I might add, whatever positive relationship had been in place up to that point went kaput!). My friend called the salesperson, he said he reminded her that he had bought a vehicle from her a few months back and just as she’d asked him to do he was calling to get the initial oil change scheduled. The one that was promised as a reward for buying the car from the dealership.
First challenge… not only does she not remember his name, she doesn’t even act as though she has any clue who he is.
Second challenge… rather than offering to take care of scheduling the oil change herself — she says, “I don’t really handle that, but here’s the number of the service department person to ask for, he can take care of you”.
My friend is surprised, but isn’t really bothered by it at this point. He calls the service department and a young lady answers. He explains the situation, and she says that the person whose name he was given was at lunch, and that she “doesn’t know anything about that” — that being a free first oil change when you purchase a car from the dealership.
Instead of offering to take his name she informs him that she would be happy to schedule something if he would like. Unfortunately the “something” wasn’t the as promised free first time oil change.
At this point my friend explains to her that he’s not interested in having their company handle any service work for him. While nice, he also explains that because of the lack of service — from the sales department to their service center he will not only not take advantage of their service department, he will also never purchase another vehicle from the dealership.
His reasoning was solid in my opinion, he said, “Josh, if I can’t count on this company to fulfill a simple oil change, how can I count on them to stand behind a vehicle which costs say, $30,000.00 to $60,000.00. Like I said, his reasoning was sound.
Unfortunately, for the dealership, that was just the beginning of their misfortune — literally in the form of missed referrals and the numerous retellings of this customer no-service story that my friend received.
While he’s not a vindictive person at all, he has told well over 8 to 9 people I know of (myself included) about this unbelievable experience. Think about that for a moment. Consider how many people will now give serious pause to doing business with this company. Even assuming that not one of those people recounted the story (which you know I have just shared it with many people here in this writing, not to mention how many people will hear it when I am speaking from the stage or coaching one of my clients on the right way to build winning customer relationships).
There are many lessons we can gain from the story above, not the least of which is this…
If you make a promise, do your dead level best to live up to it. That’s not to say that you aren’t going to fall short at times, try as we might, we all have our moments where we fall short. Still, if you want to stand out above those in the marketplace when you fall short, do your best to rectify the situation. Be honest about it, admit you fell short and if possible do your best to make up for it.
You don’t have to be perfect, and chances are, you can’t be 100% of the time no matter how hard you try, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a target worth aiming for. Aim for it, and you will find that far more often than not you will be way ahead of the game professionally and personally.
People not only want to be able to believe in and trust those they do business with — they will actively seek out those they can feel that way about. Strive to be that person and you will attract more than your share of opportunity — and make a whole lot more sales in the process!
* Josh is the author of Why Perfect Timing is a Myth: Tips for Staying Inspired and Motivated Day in and Day out! and It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG!