Last week I wrote about my challenge of getting through a phone system at a local furniture store. It was a three strikes, dust in your face, ugly out!

After the experience, I went to the company’s website to send a comment to the President. Of course, there wasn’t a link to “Write the President” – but there was a section to comment, and you could direct it to go to different departments. Hitting Submit, I felt a little relief. Until the auto-response on the screen said, “Your request has been submitted successfully. A representative from our company will be contacting you within the next couple of days.” What? A couple of days?

Fortunately, Lynn  in customer service contacted me the next morning. Her email was polite, and included an apology and what they are doing to fix the problem. Great! Then I decided to call Linda personally. I got her voicemail promptly without being stuck in a loop. And she called me back to review the situation.

Kevin , the Service Department Manager, followed up. He left a great message about wanting to talk with me because they are working on a customer focused initiative, apologized and said he wanted to hear anything else I might share.

This whole situation reminded me of a study conducted by the Washington, DC-based Technical Assistant Research Programs, Inc., on the cost of an unresolved complaint.

They found that:

  • For every customer who bothers to complain, there are 26 others who remain silent.
  • The average “wronged” customer will tell 8-16 people. Over 10% will tell more than 20 people.
  • 91% of unhappy customers will never do business with you again.
  • If you make an effort to remedy customers’ complaints, 82-95% will stay with you.
  • It costs about five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an old one.

Kevin and the furniture company have done the right things to address my complaints. They were prompt in getting back to me, have taken steps to resolve this for me and others in the future and valued my input. My level of satisfaction is higher now than it would have been had everything gone right in the first place.

And it hasn’t cost them anything but time. Off-line some have asked, “What are you going to get for your troubles?” I never even thought of asking! I didn’t need a discount or free item – I needed to be taken seriously, listened to, and assured they were fixing the problem – and I was. (Great sales and service doesn’t mean you need to give stuff away.)

How about you? In what situations have you done the right thing and therefore created a more loyal customer? Let us know in the Comments Section.


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