How to Scare Away a Customer

How to scare away a customer? Simple. Make mistakes, and waste every opportunity to correct the mistake and surprise the customer. Yes, making mistakes is human, and it can happen. But, obviously, this can harm your customer, generating discontent. However, more often than not, it will not be the error itself that will determine the customer’s frustration, but rather the Organization’s (and the people who represent it) attitude towards this error. Often, the way in which the Organization corrects the error, may even increase customer loyalty, if it act attentively and (really) concerned with finding a solution, and preventing the client from being further penalized.

Attention to the Customer

How many companies spend millions on advertising campaigns, but resist giving in to discounts, or assuming expenses resulting from their own mistake, in favor of the customer, and in order to solve the problem they themselves created. Be sure, the customer realizes this!

A survey by Zen Desk (a help desk software provider) and Dimension Search (a market research provider), entitled Customer Service and Business Results: A survey of customer service from mid-size companies showed that 54% of dissatisfied customers tell the bad experience to more than 5 people, while only 33% of satisfied customers do that. Another finding is that 45% of dissatisfied customers share the experience in social media, while only 30% of satisfied customers do that.

An Example of What Not to Do

The following story is real, and shows several opportunities missed by an Organization to provide good service and satisfy its customer. It is a pet supply store. The client requested by phone, as she used to, a packet of feed and two packs of hygienic mats (those that replace newspapers). Despite the payment of the delivery fee, the value, in general, paid off. On the same day, as agreed, the order was delivered. So far, so good. The problem, however, is that the size of the hygienic mat delivered was wrong, instead of 60 x 80 (as requested, and as it was even included in the invoice), 60 x 60 was delivered. Okay, that happens, thought the customer, because she herself had checked the feed, but not the dimensions of the mat (the packages are the same).

When identifying the error, he then called to communicate the mistake to the store. At that moment, when the store informs that it did not have the 60 x 80 in stock, the first error is noticed. If you did not have the product, you should have informed the customer, before sending a “similar” product. They then told the customer to call two days later, when they should receive the requested product, and that they could then exchange it for what had been sent. Second mistake: the store is the one who should call, notifying the arrival of the product, and not ask for the customer to do so.

Well, the customer waited three days, called the store, but the product had not arrived due to a certain logistical problem. Third error: if the product would not arrive on the promised date, due to a logistical problem (or whatever), the store should have anticipated and contacted the customer. It didn’t. During the conversation, the person speaking on behalf of the store said that he would call later to offer another similar product, in the same dimensions. Fourth error: a simple search like this could have been done immediately, without the customer having to wait, after all, a simple consultation with a store salesperson, or even the system, would inform this. And that was exactly what the client did. After researching the store’s website, he found a product with the same measurements (10% more expensive), and then she returned the call to the store requesting the exchange and saying that she would pay the difference in price. Fifth error: the store should have offered, after all the inconvenience arising from the initial error of the store itself, to assume the difference in the price of the products as a courtesy (here is the magical opportunity to delight a customer, and trigger word of mouth advertising), what they didn’t do.

The Power of Word of Mouth

According to Kotler, in his book “Marketing Management”, gaining a new customer costs 5 times more than maintaining it. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of competence from the top management of many organizations to realize the need to properly train and guide all their employees who maintain direct contact with the customer. Training aimed at taking advantage of this type of opportunity (like the one we narrate here) to surprise and delight the customer. However, despite the fact that many of these organizations spend good money on advertising, they end up losing, for much less, that magic moment of (really) solving the customer’s problem, satisfying and surprising him.

According to Ed Keller and Brad Fay, authors of “The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace”, (2012), Americans engage in many conversations about product brands every day, and, more than two-thirds of them, includes a recommendation for a purchase, consideration of a particular brand, or effective advice against a certain brand. These findings showed that 8% of these conversations took place on social networks, messaging applications, or emails, while 90% were offline conversations. Of course, these percentages may vary over time, however, the weight of personal word of mouth is evident in conversations about products and brands.

So keep in mind that there is no advertising more powerful than word of mouth. So, take advantage of opportunities that arise to solve problems and delight your customer.