According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, dissatisfied customers tell 9-15 people about their experience, and around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. The companies that I most often talk disappointingly about are few in number, but fall into that category. One area where I tend to tell several family members, friends and sales people about is when I experience a lack of follow-through and customer service. I will use one particular company as an example of what not to do.
About five years ago, I wanted to purchase a new car for myself, as well as a minivan for my wife. I have purchased four vehicles from this particular dealership. I had been happy with all my prior purchases and would tell people how much I liked my cars. However, my experience after this particular sale that made me vow to never buy another car from that dealership again.
Several weeks after my double purchase, I received a message from the dealership telling me I “forgot” to sign some papers. I had all my copies with me and went through them to see everything was signed. Finally, after I pressed them hard enough, they admitted that they had lost ALL of my paperwork. I was greatly concerned because my personal information, including my social security number, was on this paperwork. The dealership said it was just misfiled, but when I insisted they look harder, I was told they could not look through their thousands of files to try and find mine. The dealership acted like it was my problem and how dare I inconvenience them by asking them to find my private information that they had lost. Finally they agreed to send someone to my home with new paperwork so I would not be required to spend my time to go back to their dealership.
In this economy it is more important than ever that you conduct business with high integrity. Because the dealership was not honest and upfront about what happened, they lost all my future business and referrals.
Here are three simple steps to keep customers loyal when a problem arises:
1) If a problem does occur, be honest and apologize for the inconvenience it may cause your customer.
2) Always keep your customer in the loop with how you are rectifying the situation.
3) Follow up after the problem has been resolved to make sure the customer knows you care and they are important to you.
When you follow through with good service and honesty you can earn referrals and continue to grow your sales, even in the unfortunate event of mistakes or problems.
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