The stress of dealing with unhappy customers – it’s something we all experience at some point. Some of the implications of this problem are obvious. Maybe you or members of your team are the recipient of direct (and possibly not so pleasant) feedback. Oftentimes, financial resources are allocated to try to address the situation. In the end, despite your best efforts, you may lose customers. Sales efforts must then take on greater importance to replace the lost revenue.
As painful as these things may be, the damage is still relatively contained. However, what you have is a classic ‘tip of the iceberg’ type problem. It is said that only 1/8th of an iceberg can be seen above water – the rest is hidden below the surface. In the case of unhappy customers, what’s lurking beneath the surface are realities that can eventually destroy your business.
The reputation of your company is tarnished:
Forrester has declared we are in “The Age of the Customer.” One reason – customers are more empowered than they’ve been in the past. Unhappy customers have the ability to influence the opinions of hundreds – even thousands of others. Just a few unhappy and impassioned customers can wreak havoc on the reputation you worked so hard to establish.
Employee engagement falls:
Another alarming effect of unhappy customers is the impact on your employees. Frequent dealings with frustrated customers will weigh on employee morale. When morale falls, so does employee engagement. This creates a vicious cycle that eventually leads to more unhappy customers as apathy spreads among dispirited employees.
Competitors will seek to capitalize:
As soon as competitors believe you have a weakness or learn about a gap in your offering, you can count on them to exploit it. Dissatisfied customers can take their business to your competitor, potentially arming them with information they can use against you. The greater the fear, uncertainly, and doubt (FUD) your competitors can create in the market, the harder your company will have to work to overcome the negative perception.
Is your business headed for an iceberg? To steer the ship away from the disasters above before it’s too late you must:
- Make customer feedback a key part of your ongoing business processes.
- Establish formal programs to listen carefully to your customers at every ‘moment of truth,’ and use their feedback to inform your decision-making.
- Prioritize enhancement opportunities based on what will resonate most with key customer segments.
- Establish customer service excellence as part of your corporate culture and train your team based on recognized service principles.
- Demonstrate to customers and prospects that your commitment to delivering a memorable experience is not just lip service.
It may not always be smooth sailing but apply these guidelines and you can avoid at least one of the icebergs on your journey to being a successful and enduring company.