We're addicted to Starbucks beverages. We don't know what they put in them, but whatever it is, it's working.
Georganne usually makes our daily beverage run on her way in to the office. And until they came up with those little green stoppers to plug up the hole in the lid, she'd arrive almost every morning she with coffee spattered on the front of whatever she was wearing. One day she decided to call Starbuck’s® headquarters to let them know that although she enjoys their coffee, she was tired of wearing it.
The Customer Service Representative listened intently to George's comments. She apologized for the inconvenience and suggested that George send them her dry cleaning bills for stains caused by their coffee. And before she hung up, the CSR asked for George’s address so she could send her a gift card for her inconvenience.
Starbucks® didn’t have to do any of those things. They don’t have to have a Customer Service Department, they don’t have to offer customers gift cards, and they certainly don’t have to pay for dry cleaning, but we’re glad that they do.
One of the things that has helped Starbucks® become as successful as they are is that connection with their customers. It’s a good thing when customers take the time to complain to you about something they don’t like, because it means they are good customers. Loyal customers care about your success. The folks who don’t really care about you simply walk out the door and never look back. Consider the statistics:
Studies show that only 4% of unhappy customers will care enough to voice a complaint; 91% of unhappy customers will not come back to do business with you again; 80% of unhappy customers will tell 10 other people about their rotten experience; 20% of unhappy customers will tell 20 other people about what happened in your store. Others will flame you on the Internet. And how you respond relates directly to what is said about you and your business.
Know what that means? If your store only has four complaints a year, you probably had at least one hundred unhappy customers.
It’s easy to become defensive when dealing with customer complaints because it’s a natural reaction when someone criticizes your store. It’s really a gift. Starbucks® didn’t think about what it would cost to fix George’s complaint, they only thought about what it would cost them in sales and negative word-of-mouth if they didn’t fix it.
How do you handle customer complaints in your own store? If you don’t have a policy in place, consider adopting these guidelines:
Plan for complaints. Let every associate know that complaints are important to the growth of your business and to accept them graciously. Log each complaint for future discussion and for follow-up.
Resolve the issue. Listen to what the customer is telling you and react accordingly.
Compensate the customer. Starbucks® offered to pay for dry cleaning and sent a gift card. Come up with a similar plan in your own store: money-saving coupons, a free class or crop can work wonders.
Follow-up. A hand-written note or telephone call will let the customer know they are important to you and your business.
Prevent the same complaint from happening again. Discuss recent customer complaints in store meetings, then brainstorm ideas that will to preclude the same complaint from happening again.
When it comes to things that bug customers, the best defense is a solid offense. Plan ahead. That way, everyone will know what to do before the situation ever arises.
P.S. How your company is rated on Internet sites such as Yelp.com and Tripadvisor.com hold a lot of weight with consumers. Click to read how Nestle' Facebook page was used to wage war against the company:
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