How Little It Takes to Lose a Customer
Maybe it was the missing soap dish in the shower (or a shelf of any kind, to be exact). Although it could’ve easily been the fact there was no full-length mirror. Or that clogged sink. Regardless, these picayune things—piled onto a few other irritations—added up to a long list of bad service we experienced in an expensive hotel where we spent a few days last month.
So we moved down the street, where service was truly excellent, and the room (which was less pricey) was far nicer and much more comfortable than that first one. That evening, upon our return from dinner, we saw the blinking, message-waiting light. "We hope everything in your room is satisfactory!" the voice said. This, in turn, effectively sealed the deal that we made the right choice and won’t ever go back to Hotel #1.
On top of that, we won’t ever recommend the first hotel, and I will go out of my way to tell friends to steer clear of it.
Now my question to you is, how do you know your customers aren’t experiencing some dissatisfaction about your service? How do you know how they really feel about their treatment by your company—and in the case of printers, I mean by their sales and service reps.
Having been there, I’ll testify to the fact that print customers have left printers because they get unacceptable treatment. Too often, they’d much rather switch than fight.
- Maybe they feel they’ve been slighted or ignored.
- Maybe they never hear a "thank you" when all of their other vendors go out of their way to say it.
- Maybe their calls have gone unanswered one day too many, or they can’t get a straight answer about the status of a job.
- Maybe some function about your Web-to-print interface is so frustrating that they’re ready to give it the heave-ho and look somewhere else.
- Maybe they just plain feel like their business is unappreciated. And that they don’t matter to you.
The reality is, customers like coddling, whether we’re guests at a hotel, diners at a restaurant, or clients of a printer. There’s an expected level of basic service in every buyer-seller situation. And it may not take a whole lot to deliver this, either. That’s what’s so important to know.
What steps are you taking to learn—if any—to see if your customers have one foot out the door?
I suggest you find out. All it would take is a focused effort to poll them—individually or as a group. You could send an easy online survey to customers, or automatically send an e-mail to each customer following a job’s completion. Word your questions carefully (i.e., a sloppy and lazy "How’re we doing?" won’t do) to get to the heart of a customer’s feedback.
It’s worth taking the time to ask your customers how they currently feel about the service you provide them. Maybe fixing the equivalent of a clogged bathroom sink is all it would take to keep them content—and not move to your competition down the street—and still willing to sing your praises loud and clear.
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com