How do you respond to poor customer service? Do you flip out, demand to see a manager and cause a scene? Do you demand upgrades? Or do you quietly walk away, telling yourself that you'll never be back, no matter what.
What do poor attitudes and poor customer service cost you and your company? Or, on the flip side, how much does your company benefit from great attitudes and great customer service? When customers like a company or a product, they'll spread the word to their friends. People will also let others know if they don't like a company or product.
As Jeffrey Gitomer puts it: "The one word definition of referral is risk. ... When someone gives you a referral, it means they are willing to risk their relationship with the referred person or company. They have enough trust and faith in you to perform in an exemplary manner, and not jeopardize their existing friendship or business relationship."
Last year I discussed a bad experience I had with a computer manufacturer:
"I placed my order, and waited for my delivery. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually I got an e-mail saying that the ship date had slipped by several weeks. No kidding. Unfortunately, in this case I was counting on the system to arrive by a certain date because I'd already promised my older system to someone else. They didn't want to wait either."
While I didn't publicly name the manufacturer, I've since had people ask me for recommendations. Needless to say, I've always recommended someone else. And when I've had other machines that needed to be replaced, I've gone with another vendor.
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that, as a result of this one bad experience, at least six systems were purchased from other vendors, either by me or by people I know. Some of these systems included dual monitors, SSD drives and other hardware upgrades. How much money did this poor customer service cost this company? Odds are I'm not the only one who's had an issue this manufacturer. So take my experience and multiply it three, five, even 10 times. Now we're talking about real money.
Maybe the saddest part is this manufacturer will probably never know what happened. I didn't mention their name. I didn't rant about my experience on Twitter. Other than the phone call that I had to make when I was forced to cancel my order, I've had no interactions with them. Sure, they still e-mail special offers, but I delete them as soon as I see them. I don't do business with them anymore.
As a consumer, I have a long memory. I know which restaurants I won't return to and which airlines I'll never fly again. And I'm hardly alone in this regard. I know people who refuse to patronize vendors based on bad experiences that happened decades ago.
Of course, mistakes and accidents happen, and some things are beyond our control. Will your company shine when those moments come, or will it lose customers -- along with several of those customers' friends and acquaintances? What are you doing to bolster and/or maintain your company's reputation for good customer service?