Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All it took was a bad experience one day with one employee

A bad experience, one day.
My post in this blog last week initiated an interesting conversation about how little effort companies make to sincerely create a positive experience for their customers, properly train their employees to be the first and strongest brand ambassadors, and make of good customer service an integral part of their corporate culture.

"The road to brand loyalty, passes only through a positive customer experience"

Building a loyal customers base, engaged, whom keep always doing business with your company is the healthiest and safest way to build it up.

It’s a concept most business owners agree on and understand, but unfortunately most of them rarely put it on practice or simply don’t do the best they can at it.

There will never be a client who would want to, or would be willing to become a true follower of your brand or company if it has had a bad or mediocre user or purchasing experience, unless you’re one of those who says "let them talk about my brand even if they say bad things" and consider a loyal customer is one who wants to go after your business, inflict some damage, hurt it, put a legal claim, or in the best-case scenario, simply openly spread the word about how bad its shopping experience has been with you.

Your business goal is to have a loyal customer base, and it only happens when you develop for your customers a positive experience “continuously”.

Why do I say "a positive experience continuously"? I’ll get to that in a second

How much does it cost your company to lose a loyal customer?

I recently read on Social Media Explorer (the link at the end) an article  in which its author, Nichole Kelly, apart from narrating the experience she had with her favorite airline, at least favorite until that day, made ​​a statement which I believe is worth to keep as a reminder of how important customers are to the health of your business:

"The price of our brand loyalty is simply one bad experience"

In her story, Nicole shows us how just one bad experience she had one day with an employee, one of the several hundreds working at the airline she flies with so frequently, was reason enough to make her think about going to fly with another company and throw away an ongoing loyal relationship she had had with that airline for several years.

A bad experience one day with any employee was all that needed to happen for this airline to be so close to losing one loyal customer.

Fair? Probably not, if you analyze it in depth, but it's the way things happen. You could even say that Nicole actions were a bit exaggerated like those customers who, at the slightest mistake of the company, are able to build a story of great magnitude. It might be the case, but the lesson to learn is that it’s always possible and it could aslo happen to you.

Not fair but very possible indeed. It's not your decision. It’s up to your customer.

Being loyal to a brand is not the same as it is between people.

Your customer’s loyalty to your business is not the same as loyalty between human beings. That you need to know. And to understand more clearly how certain this statement is, let’s take a look at how it would be if we were talking about your personal life.

Let’s say today you have a very strong argument with your partner. What happens next? That you both will be willing to give each other a chance, work things out and get everything back to normal. How long it takes will depend on how strong the argument was, or whether things that were said were truly hurtful or not, but in a personal relationship like this one, the willingness to give the other side an opportunity exists. Or at least, it should.

If it weren’t this way, no relationship would last more than a couple of months. Or, is there anyone who can say not having had a serious argument with its partner at some point during the relationship? I know I have.

But the difference is that in a relationship where there are strong emotional bonds (which some, including myself, call it "love") there is a decisive willingness to forgive, work things out and move on. The willingness to "give a second chance".

It‘s not so when it comes to your customer’s loyalty to the company and its services. Much more so when the competition is so aggressive they will steal customers from you if you offer them a chance.

Brand loyalty : A two very-clearly-defined faces coin.

Throughout this article I have highlighted two things: "continuously positive experience" and "strong emotional ties". And I did it for the following reasons:

  • A customer will be willing to forgive your mistakes, or your employees’ mistakes, only if there are "strong emotional ties" that connect him to your company or brand. Only then, your client will be willing to give you a second, and perhaps even a third chance. Not otherwise.
  • The "strong emotional ties" with your customers can only be developed if your company focuses on offering a “positive experience continuously" to its customers. Not only one time, or one single day. It has to happen on a recurring basis, meaning whenever your customers get in contact with you, every time they make a purchase, every time you communicate with them.

It may sound too demanding: every time, every day, every purchase, every contact.

But consider the case illustrating Nicole’s post: A bad experience one day with an employee of the company was reason enough for her to think about going to fly with another company, and also to feel upset enough as to write her post and spread it out through social networks.

That is why brand loyalty has these two faces, so opposite to each other. White and black. Perhaps most of this situations get started the very same way: An incident that otherwise wouldn’t be of great significance itself, turns into a nightmare because it involves a client who is willing to share his bad experience with others.

Fair? Once again probably not. But it's the way things happen.

What can you do to prevent this from happening to your business?

It isn’t so hard if you try to focus on two things:

  1. Make sure to create a "positive experience continuously" for all your customers.
  2. Make sure each of your company’s employees and staff members, from the management team to employees servicing customers day after day, understand that "customer satisfaction" is the only road possible to business success.

Only this way, you are taking the best steps you can to make sure you don’t lose customers, for one single incident, one day, with any of your employees.

Photo credit : Creatista / 123 RF

Article I recommend reading :
One Bad Experience Can Ruin A Lifetime Of Loyalty

Related articles in this blog:
How important is what your customer experiences with your product?
The Deep Relationship Between Expectations, Experience and Your Business Success

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