Customer Service, On Writing

Customers are precious

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends” – Jeff Bezos

It’s easier to keep a customer than get a new one – about 5 times easier. And customers are much more likely to tell someone in social media when they have a bad experience. You need to respond to those bad experiences so that customers don’t leave. You can’t fix every bad experience, and finding out what caused that experience and solving for the root cause is one of the best ways to make sure that problem never happens to another customer.

Customers are precious. To keep them, start by putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what ensures a great experience. Sometimes the key is a small thing – making sure the customer always has someone to talk to regardless of whether there’s a problem. Other times the solution isn’t immediately apparent. When there isn’t a great experience, it’s really important to find out what happened and make it right for the customer. That starts with seeking the root cause. And after the fact, you need to figure out whether the customer is likely to stay or leave.

A customer who is moderately happy or moderately upset doesn’t always tell you directly whether they will stay. Learn more about customers as a group by asking them a few important questions. First, ask them whether they will buy from you again. This is a simple measurement that tells you directly whether they appreciate the service and product you delivered. Second, ask them whether they would recommend you to a friend. The Net Promoter score (you’re looking for the percentage of 9 and 10 answers on a 0 to 10 scale, minus the 0 to 6 answers) tells you in one number whether you’re providing world class service.

You need to learn whether customers are likely to leave. Until it hurts, call every customer. Then keep calling to hear the feedback first hand. At scale, you will be sampling responses, responding to negative reviews, and making at least 20-30 calls a week to talk to people and hear their responses first hand.

Here are a few other things to do every day to remind yourself what customers are feeling and thinking:

  1. Call every customer.
  2. Respond to every email as fast as you can while responding fully.
  3. Start with the customer in mind.

You can find 47 other ways to improve the customer experience here.

This is post 3 of the 100 posts in 100 days challenge

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2 thoughts on “Customers are precious

  1. Totally on board with this.

    I do think there are two distinct goals here. One is learning, the other is customer happiness. Of course you can do both by just talking to them. I’m curious, is there a certain number of customers you need to speak to in order to get an accurate representation of the customer base as a whole?

    1. David – thanks for the feedback. I think that “unhappiness” issues need to be dealt with when there are only small numbers of problems – as there are other unspoken items. For larger issues, usually 30+ customers gives you a good idea.

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