Yesterday, I was confronted by an upset customer about the lack of communication at one of my companies. As I listened, the adrenaline began surging through my veins the more he spoke of his frustrations. Naturally, I wanted to defend, and at one point even tried to offer some understanding. To him, it was all excuses, and he wanted to hear nothing of it.
Truthfully, this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard about these frustrations. In a lot of ways, he was right and I applaud him for being bold enough to speak the truth about his experiences. I needed to hear it.
Regardless of whether I agreed with him or not, he was frustrated, and that is what deserved my attention.
In the midst of the confrontation, I started to realize that this customer really wanted to do the right thing. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten upset.
Upon reflection, I realized that our lack of communication was making life harder for him. Furthermore, he mentioned a few unrelated challenges that would complicated anybody’s life and it reminded me that I don’t always know what people are going through. All that mattered in that moment is that we weren’t making life easy for him; we were making it more difficult.
In a world where we are taught to blend in and not get noticed, it takes boldness for customers to speak their mind. Often, their words are fueled by frustrations, and the situation becomes awkward. Nobody wants to be that person.
How many people go to a restaurant, order food and upon arrival, discover it to be wrong? Most people don’t say anything because they don’t want to step out and take the risk. Or, they don’t want to be that person. So, they don’t say anything and never go back. That’s a lose/lose for the customer and the business.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.”
The Butterfly Effect talks about how micro movements made on one side of the world can cause epic weather on the other. As a small business, we have to remember that the small decisions we make can and will have an impact on our business and customers.
We are in the people business and details matter. Where there is a lack of clarity and detail, we can expect that customers will get confused. Confused customers turn into detractors and ultimately, leave our business. According to a recent American Express survey, frustrated customers will tell 16 people about their experiences. Ouch.
Putting our customers first requires focus, intentionality and sheer determination to ensure that they feel like their needs are met in a timely and effective manner. Resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor, and they will do business with you again 70% of the time. (Source: Lee Interactive)
To those who take the time to express frustration with the businesses in whom you patronage, thank you. If it weren’t for you, companies like mine would live in the illusion that we’ve got it right.
For those who wonder if you can or should say something when you are frustrated, I implore you to do so. We need to hear from you!
The saying goes that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. For people-based businesses, often our only measurement is customer feedback. It’s critical to our continued successes and improved customer experiences.
We need voices that are bold enough to say something. Please don’t say silent.
As for me and my team, we spent a solid hour in a staff meeting talking about our current state of communication and put together a plan to improve it.
Thank you Mr. Customer for speaking up. It’s already making a difference.