Recently we had a birthday party for my son at local venue. Everyone had a good time, but when we got home we realized the venue had put some birthday gifts from another child in our bin. While this was more an inconvenience for me to return the gifts, I could imagine that another child could be extremely sad returning home and realizing they did not have all their birthday gifts.
Everyone has had negative customer experiences. Some are big deals, some are small deals, but in each situation the company chooses how they want to resolve the issue. Some companies lean towards one side of the ledger with a “customer is always right” mentality and focus on resolving the problem. On the other extreme, some companies try and focus on rules, contract language, and other sources to prove “who was right.”
When I was in consulting, I did a lot of work with customer loyalty. One of the interesting aspects of loyalty was that when a negative event happens (and they will), if the company responds quickly to acknowledge the issue and go above-and-beyond to resolve the issue and make the customer feel valued that actually boosts loyalty more than if the negative event did not happen! Think about that again - a negative event resolved fantastically is more powerful to loyalty than if everything went fine. This is not to say that having multiple negative events is a good thing, but rather that companies who choose the “customer is always right” mentality may have additional short-term costs to correct the issue, but the long-term value of the loyalty far exceeds the costs.
a negative event resolved fantastically
is more powerful to loyalty than if everything went fine.
Back to the story … when I called the venue to explain the situation and offer to drive the other child’s gifts back, they heard the issue and quickly apologized (versus trying to blame someone else for the mistake). They then had a manager call me back to apologize, and he offered to drive to my house right then to pick up the gifts and then drive them to the other child’s house. Wow!!! That type of quick, above-and-beyond response earned huge points in my book and I have been telling my friends this great story!
So when an issue happens with your customers, take responsibility, quickly resolve the issue, and go above-and-beyond to your customer for their trouble. Your customers share their experience - as a company, you have huge influence on whether that story is positive or negative based on how you respond. The lifetime value of a loyal customer is worth far more than any short-term costs to resolve the issue.