It’s long been known that poor customer service creates enemies and destroys goodwill. Experts say those who have good customer experiences with a business gain that customer’s repeat business. But if the customer has a bad experience, they tell an average of 10 other people about it, who in turn relay that experience to five others.
That was recently borne out when a friend of mine recently traveled on US Airways to attend a relative’s funeral. Her flight on US Airways was so traumatic that she has become a vocal opponent of the airline.
First, her flight was delayed for hours as she sat in her plane on the tarmac. This was likely to make it impossible for her or any of her fellow passengers to make connecting flights, and when she landed, sure enough, she missed her flight. But instead of promptly correcting the problem with apologies, she was told there was "nothing they could do" and because of the time of day, no other flights were available.
Nearly hysterical with anger, she was forced to stay in an expensive hotel overnight rather than sleep in a big city airport terminal. The following day, she came home, having missed the funeral.
Had this been the end of it, it would be bad enough, but after initially promising to refund the $600 ticket price, airline officials later informed her - by email - that she would not receive a refund, because delays were partly due to "weather problems."
Infuriated, she has literally told everyone she knows (including me) about this incident, and has urged everyone she knows to not fly US Airways in the future. In fact, she has even told strangers about the situation, going over every excruciating detail with them. And she’s found much sympathy. Imagine how bad this is for US Airways if everyone on the flight has done this.
In fact, they may well be doing just that.
Research firm TARP recently conducted a study showing that for every 26 unhappy customers, only one will lodge a formal complaint with a company’s management.
Remembering that dissatisfied customers tell, on average, 10 people, and they in turn tell five others, the magnitude of poor service begins to seem almost catastrophic.
In what TARP calls the "Customer Complaint Iceberg," an average of 1,560 people will hear about at least one of these unhappy customers' experiences.
Now, when you think about the 25 unhappy customers who DIDN’T complain, but still might spread negativity about you poor service, it becomes a near-nightmare scenario for a company.
Reputations are built on goodwill, and goodwill is built with good customer service.
Business owners need to be pro-active about customer satisfaction. They need to actively survey their customers to quickly identify any flaws in their delivery of goods or services, and to quickly correct those problems.
Abbott Public Relations can conduct a Customer Service Audit that will survey your customers and help identify possible problems - before they start complaining to their friends, family and strangers.
Don’t wait for disaster to strike, in the form of an army of angry former customers.