Monday, February 16, 2009

How Far Do You Go?

How far do you go to take care of a customer? What do you do to encourage your customers to complain to you if there is a complaint? Do you know the value of one happy customer to your business? Do you know the value of one unhappy customer to your business?

In today's world it is so easy for a customer to talk about you or your business and they are probably ten times more likely to talk about it if their experience is not positive. Twenty years ago, that would have been a very small circle of people, now it can be a very large circle of people. With the advent of social websites like Facebook, Twitter, My Space and others, people can tell each other things in less than a second.

My training in business from the people I worked for in the past was that, you do everything possible to not give money back if someone is unhappy. That would go to some serious extremes from my early days in the car business. All it did was make the customer more angry and to be very stressful on the seller as well.

I found through experience and trial and error, that the best thing is to be willing to do whatever is possible to take care of the customer and the vast majority of the time, giving money back turned into a long-term happy customer instead.

Here's a recent example. I sold an expensive book. It was brand new, but I had owned it for some time. When the customer received it, there is a note in each book stating that if they are not pleased with anything at all to contact me immediately and it will be taken care of. So, he contacted me stating that he thought the book might be used and not new saying there was a crease in the spine. I immediately answered that his satisfaction was paramount and that I would be happy to send him another new copy or refund his money in full as he desired. He replied that he was glad that I was willing to go the distance, but that he was satisfied after all and thanked me for my willingness to take care of him. I offered again and he declined and so the issue is closed. I absolutely would have replaced it regardless of cost and sent it Priority Mail to boot, but I didn't have to. In many cases, I have done so.

You might say, well, that is all well and good for lesser expensive things, but things like automobiles is a wholly different story. I say baloney. In my later years in the car business as a manager that had the power to do so, I have easily given people their money back to resolve an issue. Some even came back to become customers again. Yet, in today's world of massive communication so quick, a business needs to really consider that it may be far cheaper to take a small loss and take care of this customer than to lose untold numbers of sales from an unhappy customers communications.

We need each other. I think the Golden Rule is still alive and well. Treat others as you would like to be treated and it should serve you well as it has for a few thousand years.

No comments: