A Customer Service Lesson from Mother’s Day

Posted on 10. May, 2013 by in Customer Research, Word of Mouth

With Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, and many of us struggling to find just the right gift, Groupon offers the results of a timely survey.  Groupon reports:

  • Most mothers want to be surprised with their present;
  • But, Moms would rather get no present at all than deal with a bad one;
  • And, unfortunately, you may never know if you’ve selected a ‘winning present’ for your mother because 84% of moms indicated they’d “suffer in silence” if they received a disappointing gift.

There’s another reminder in these findings that transcends our Moms and Mothers’ Day.  It’s this.  Just because your customers aren’t openly complaining about your products and services doesn’t mean that they’re happy!  Like some Moms, they may be suffering in silence.  But unlike moms, customers encountering a bad experience are a more ‘vengeful’ group.  They:

  1. May feel so worn down and/or skeptical that their complaining won’t result in any improvement so that they remain quiet allowing you to continue to make the same mistake over again and on other customers, or
  2. May simply decide never to buy your products/services again – decreasing your bottom-line, or
  3. May voice their displeasure to a sales clerk, a repairman, a teller or other representative of your firm, but the complaint never gets communicated up to management (either because there’s no escalation process, or because staff has seen how management treats the bearer of bad news), or
  4. They do complain, but rather than to your organization, to other consumers; either through the public social media that you may monitor, or through private social media (their friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers ) by way of phone calls, conversations, text messages, and emails that you can’t monitor or easily learn of.

 How Can You Address This Challenge? 

I can’t offer you help with Mother’s Day gift-giving, but I can help you with your customers.  Certainly you need to have a well-publicized customer service function that responds to customers in a timely fashion.  And, you need to monitor the social media to discover other unhappy customers who’ve vented publicly.  My strategic recommendation is not to rely on any current customer satisfaction survey process you have in place, but rather that you conduct short Buzz assessments with customers (using a process like Customer Experience Partner’s Buzz BarometerTM).  Further, a lot of learning about customer dissatisfaction is dependent upon management’s philosophy towards and openness to criticism.  Make certain that your company’s culture embraces listening to and learning from customer feedback.  Afterall, customer feedback has often been described as “a gift”.

But beyond listening, consider how you can also acknowledge feedback from customers.  I strongly believe in thanking customers for both their negative and positive feedback.  Your acknowledgment is made all the stronger if you explain to customers how you’ve acted on complaints.

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