Strategy & Leadership

Customer Service is Like Marriage — Never Leave Angry

Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared on Shep Hyken’s blog and is republished here with permission.

Someone in your organization irritated your customer. The customer left angry or upset. Perhaps the customer was less than friendly or difficult. Maybe the customer was too demanding or had unrealistic expectations. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. The customer left unhappy.

Someone might say, “Well, it was just one customer.” But that way of thinking is so last century!

An Angry Customer Has a Posse

First, do you really want to lose a customer — and is one lost customer even acceptable? But it hardly ever turns out that way. It used to be, depending on what statistics you looked at, that the average unhappy customer might tell eight to twelve people about the negative experience.

With Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, the customer’s voice is louder than ever.

Now, maybe you can afford to lose one customer, although I’ll argue that you really shouldn’t think that way. But, are you willing to part with the eight or more customers that may stop doing business with you because of that one customer’s amplified message of dissatisfaction?

I don’t think so.

The Sting of Unforeseen Consequences

In 2000, TripAdvisor began serving up travel-related content and reviews online. Not that many years later — in 2004 — Yelp was born. These were early forms of social media. In the past three to five years, the concept of socializing reviews of companies, and their products and services, has become common. Which leads us to the concept of unintended consequences.

The stats on the effects of complaining customers, which I mentioned earlier, are no longer valid. With Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, the customer’s voice is louder than ever. Increasingly, customers turn to the social channels to broadcast their likes and, unfortunately, their dislikes to their online connections. Ultimately, that could be millions of people. The unintended consequence of not managing your customer’s experience can turn into much more than one — or even a few — lost customers.

Consider this a wake-up call to manage each and every customer as if they will review your business publicly. One simple technique is to ask yourself one of my favorite questions, which ties into building repeat business:

Is the interaction that I’m having with the customer right now good enough get the customer to come back and do business with us the next time they need what we do or sell?

If the answer is “Yes!”, then you don’t have to worry about negative unintended consequences.

A version of this article first appeared on Shep Hyken’s Customer Service Blog and was written by Shep Hyken. You can read the full version here.

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