If you look at the July Content Calendar I posted last month, you’ll notice that today is “Get to Know Your Customer Day.” And the best way to do that is by listening to them. Really pay attention to what they have to say. Because if you can get them to tell you how they feel, you’ll have a brief snapshot of how others less inclined to complain feel as well.
Customers do not complain. In fact, for every one customer that does complain, 25 will leave without saying anything. And many of those will not return. But they will share their experience with 10 other people, who will pass it along to another 5. So if one complaint (that you didn’t even hear) has the potential to reach 500 people, let’s do the math to see what this might mean to you.
Let’s say you receive one complaint a month.
- 12 people may remain your customers because you listened.
- 300 customers left in silence, but told 3000 people
- Those 3000 passed it along to an additional 15,000 people. So 18,300 now know about your poor customer service.
I’d like to avoid this “shock” tactic and scale this down. Perhaps the disgruntled shared their experience with only one other person, and only 1/4 of those people passed it along. 675 people knowing about your poor customer service is better than 18,300, but the number is still too high.
Here are some things you can do about it.
- Pay attention to social media. It has the potential to be far worse than the outrageous example above. If you pay attention to what people are saying about your bookstore, you have the opportunity to diffuse problems before they escalate.
- Gather customer feedback. This could be as simple as a counter “tell us how we’re doing” card or as elaborate as an online survey. Programs like Survey Monkey make that collection of data easy for small businesses, but you could do something similar by creating a form through Google Docs.
- Monitor online reviews. Sites like Yelp and Foursquare allow customers to post with anonymity. If you haven’t “claimed” your bookstore at these sites, you really should. It’s a fairly painless process, but then you have control to promote online offers and, more importantly, respond to reviews. Reply to reviews, positive or negative, as soon as you can with a polite and civil tone.
It’s important to remember that with any of these methods of listening to customer complaints, you may disagree, but don’t come out swinging. The customer’s perception is their reality.