Calculated Costs of Just One Customer Complaint
Posted on November 23, 1999
by Patricia Weber,
You start with one customer, just one, who for some reason you did not service satisfactorily. Maybe it was an attitude or disinterested tone you communicated. Maybe it was a billing problem. One poor encounter, one customer lost.
One disappointed customer represents 6 others who also are not happy. Those other 6 are just keeping their dissatisfaction a secret from you. One plus six is - 7.
We can count on the average disappointed customer to tell at least 9 others. Considering we have 7 dissatisfied customers from the one brave soul who told us we were not up to par, now 7 will tell 9 people each. From easy multiplication, that's 63 people who will hear about this negative experience. To keep the calculators away, round this to 64.
We know there is an assumed level of influence of 25%. Only one quarter of those 64 will act on what they hear. This means 16 people are likely not to do business with a company who can't deliver satisfactorily, or who somehow communicate an attitude of rudeness or indifference. Pandora's box is wide open.
Multiply this 16 by the average revenue for your product or service. Say you sell a service that costs $1,000. One negative encounter just cost you and your company $16,000. What would the potential loss be if you multiply that out over the number of purchases a customer is likely to make in a life time? What if two people in your organization did something to lose one customer today? Immense, immeasurable loss.
With all this costly talk, why don't customers tell you before they chatter incessantly? Think for a moment. Why don't you complain? You don't think it will make a difference. You want to avoid the stress. It's just as easy to find someplace else to buy from. These are the same easons your customers may not come back.
What's the good news? One complaining customer is your opportunity to improve. You can rescue the potential, immense loss when you improve on what that one customer complains about. Provide a solution that they agree is more than satisfactory. Statistics show that 7 out of 10 customers will do business with an organization again if a complaint is resolved in their favor relatively quickly. Listen. Respond. Resolve.
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