Let’s talk a little bit more about word-of-mouth. Here’s the plain truth: Word of mouth isn’t just word of mouth any more. It’s no longer just a casual street corner conversation, or a casual mention at a business lunch. People don’t just say things – they post them on Facebook, in their blogs, on business networking sites, even in forums where they talk about subjects that may have nothing to do with your business, like gardening, or antique tractor parts.
But wherever people post their opinions, you can count on one basic fact: What’s posted on the Internet stays on the Internet – forever. Whether you like it or not, whether it’s fair or not, when a customer says something online about your store, it goes straight into your permanent record.
The poet Maya Angelou said it best:
- People will forget what you said
- People will forget what you did
- But people will never forget how you made them feel.
It doesn’t matter if you solve a customer’s problem to your satisfaction, if you don’t also solve it to the customer’s satisfaction. If a customer goes away feeling unhappy, or even slighted just a little bit, then you’ve lost, and in a big way, no matter how satisfied you feel with the outcome. An unhappy customer who posts about your store on Facebook is broadcasting his or her unhappiness to the world. So now, not only will your customers never forget how you made them feel – their friends, and their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends will know about it, and very possibly never forget it either.
You need to listen to your customers, you need to find out what’s important to them, you need to find out when they’re having problems with your business, and you need to solve those problems to the customer’s satisfaction. If you try to fight bad word-of-mouth after it’s already gotten around, you’re too late. The only thing you can count on is preventing it from happening in the first place. And to do that, you need to take positive steps toward customer retention management , such as using a service like Compechek, which combines intelligent, well thought out customer satisfaction survey questions with its ALR system for encouraging and enforcing positive, accountable response to customer concerns before they become permanent problems.
So which will it be – an effective program for customer loyalty and retention which lets you take care of problems while they’re still manageable, or an endless and hopeless battle to remove bad word-of-mouth from your store’s permanent (and very public) record? These days, there can be only one answer.
If you would like to know more about how the ASK LISTEN RETAIN System or how it can help create customer retention and loyalty, please contact us.