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It’s All About The Service, Stupid

During lunch yesterday in the conference room with my office mates, I solicited suggestions for the weekly blog. Many ideas were offered, each individual contributing various marketing or advertising topics, until Lesa asked “With the holidays coming, why don’t you write about bad service experiences and the impact on customer retention?” I realize that I’ve covered “service” as it relates to Brand in the previous blog, but the group’s reaction was highly animated and the topic important enough to continue this week. Most interestingly, everyone was very willing to share his or her recent service horror stories!

Years ago our bank’s resident market research guru proclaimed that, on average, an unhappy customer would likely tell seven other people about a bad experience. Think of a recent bad episode you’ve had – did you go home and forget about it immediately? Chances are, before you were even out of the parking lot you were on the cell telling your friends about it. Then, the next day, you likely mentioned it to your office co-workers … and maybe a neighbor or two … or perhaps if you were still steamed, the dentist’s receptionist … your letter carrier, the grocery bagger, even!

If you tally the number of folks that heard about the experience, seven might be a tad short! Think about the number of individuals who changed their outlook of that store based on your experience. Think of how many told others your story!

And… that was before the Internet - before blogs, before Twitter and Facebook. I’d be willing to wager that today, an unhappy customer today could tell at least several hundred or even thousand people about their bad customer experience. I recently googled a bank’s name followed by “customer complaints” and literally hundreds of links to sites with complaints about that one bank appeared!

Another marketing adage is that it takes six times the effort and expense to get new customers than to keep an old customer from leaving. Whether it’s six or seven or even ten, and with customers telling others about their bad service experiences – the question remains… why wouldn’t store ownership/management want to provide good service experiences? Now, go have a good customer experience and get ready for the holidays. But before I sign off this week, let me tell you that…

  • Someone was upset that their gas station didn’t have receipt paper in the pay-at-the-pumps (and never do…)
  • Someone went to pick up a laptop at a store only to be told that they were out of stock (but could offer an obviously inferior make and model)…
  • Someone went to a teashop and was harangued by the salesperson with other items that weren’t needed.
  • Someone had a question but the three salespeople available on the floor were more interested in their weekend catch-up than bothering to inquire whether they could be of service.

Store names were not included to protect the guilty and avoid messy lawsuits. Have you had any bad service experiences you’d like to share?