My Two Cents: Customers Demand RespectDo you discuss within your company what causes customers to leave? Further, do you talk about what you can do to prevent this from happening? An email recently came across my computer screen which caught my eye. The subject of this email was, “Why Your Customers Stay or Stray.” Since this is an issue which we face on a daily basis, I thought it was worth a further look.

Survey Says

The paper, published by Tampa, Fla.-based AchieveGlobal, referenced a worldwide consumer survey they conducted, as well as interviews with customer-contact employees from a number of consumer-oriented companies. While the information is not entirely earth shattering, it reinforces statistics that I’ve heard and read about in the past. Acknowledging the study’s importance, I circulated it to everyone in our company.

The opening portion focuses on consumers. Their findings are important for all of us to share with at least our frontline employees.

The most important thing for consumers is to be heard and respected. Those two emotional impacts are more important than having their issue resolved. Forty-six percent of respondents identified rudeness or indifference and 50 percent identified no concern for my problem as the most negative employee behaviors. According to the survey, the top negative phone behaviors were:

• Being transferred multiple times;

• Being put on hold;

• The use of a scripted or canned response;

• Chatter that strays from the core problem; and

• Not getting a live person.

I want to address the last one. For some reason, it seems that many small business owners feel that it is cool to have an elaborate phone system with multiple menus. I assume they do this so that they will be perceived as a large company. In my experience, the customer has no interest in how big you are, but is more concerned with how quickly and efficiently you deal with them. I believe that making them spell my name is not the way to make them feel we have dealt with them quickly and efficiently.

Probably the most important things we should take from this survey are the results regarding customer defection. That is, how likely are customers to punish a company for failing to meet their expectations? Approximately half of participants were somewhat to very likely to defect to a competitor after a single bad experience. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of all respondents have posted negative online reviews. 

Every Moment Matters

In order to reduce or eliminate defections, we need to remember that every customer, in every interaction, expects:

Respect — they expect caring individual service and treatment.

• Simplicity — they don’t care about your internal problems/issues.

• Solutions — make a prompt, honest effort to solve their problem.

• Responsibility — the individual making a commitment needs to take the responsibility to make sure the issue is resolved.

You can see from these survey results that customer issues and needs are really divided into two types. The first centers on the human, or emotional, needs. The second focuses on the business needs. From the above, respect and simplicity are clearly ways to handle these emotional needs. The solution handles the business need, while the responsibility aspect satisfies emotional and business needs. The business part is seeing that the solution is adequately performed, while the emotional segment is accomplished by taking the responsibility to see that it happens.

When we look back at the magnitude of defections, it should be very clear to us that we must make sure that all of our personnel are properly satisfying all needs of every customer with whom they come in contact.

Publication date: 4/15/2013