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The customer is always right — and talkative

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Customer’s expectations are at an all-time high and for a lot of people and a lot of companies, it is frightening.  For years businesses have been able to get by treating people mediocre and still making the deal.  They were able to hold a high gross profit all while having a low customer satisfaction number.  Well not anymore.  Not with Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, googleplaces and all of the other online avenues.  The stakes are too high and the consumer isn’t playing around anymore.

When surveyed by the National Auto Dealer Association, the top three concerns of the customer in the Service Department are cost of the repair, timeliness of the repair, and being treated with respect. Which concern do you think is number one?  Not cost or time.  Nope, it is being treated with respect.  So why do we put so much emphasis on the financial part of the deal?  If they don’t like us, they will never come back and that is costing businesses far more money in the long run than ever before.

Not only will someone leave your business if they are upset, they will go tell their 781 friends on Facebook, who will then tweet about it, who will then show up somewhere on Google and rate you on googleplaces.  Not good.  Our emphasis at any given business should be squarely on the customer experience, and the customer experience only!  Check out some vital statistics regarding the customer experience:

86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% 4 years ago
Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition
Source: Peppers & Rogers Group, 2009 Customer Experience Maturity Monitor

Even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers, with 60% often or always paying more for a better experience.
Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again
Source: Lee Resource Inc.

Those are some pretty incredible – and revealing – statistics.  The stakes are extremely high.  Our businesses cannot afford to lose a single customer in this tough business climate.  Not one.  But what could we gain from doing the little things right, with integrity, transparency, and treating the customer with respect?  Referrals, repeat business and in the end hard earned profit.

In our company, we believe that it's simple: treat customers right, and they'll come back.
It has not been easy nor inexpensive to make the shift in thinking.  We have hired outside companies to help at times, trained extensively and made mistakes along the way.  We know how important the customer experience is and how being treated fairly and with respect is to everyone.  And with social media as incredibly relevant as it is, we know how serious the situation is.

So what about you?  What is your company doing to differentiate the customer experience?  Maybe it means a different way of answering the phone.  Maybe it is some new process.  But let us all be assured of one thing: the customer is talking.  The question is, what are they saying about you?

Alex Casebeer is on the executive management team at Capitol Auto Group in Salem.  Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , on facebook.com/alexcasebeer or at twitter.com/alexcasebeer.



Brian S
0 #1 So Very TrueBrian S 2011-09-13 11:17:05
This article hits the nail on the head! We need to take care of our customers at the time they are at our businesses. If we don't they will make sure that their circle of friends knows we didn't and with all the review sites and social media that circle is no longer 10-20 people it is 1,000 or more.
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