Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
To err is human, to forgive is divine and to seek forgiveness for your mistakes is wise.
We dream of starting a company and aim at growing bigger, but what most of us fail to learn in this process of growth is that the company is made of both employees and the customers. Yes, employees are the ones that create and build a product/service and thus a company. But, ultimately it’s the customers that help a company have an unbiased outlook, introspect and thereby evolve. After all, they are the company’s source, in terms of knowledge and wealth, as well as the destination, in terms of satisfaction.
The great entrepreneur Sam Walton once said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
When we know that the customer is omnipotent, why should we hesitate to own up to our mistakes and offer an apology? Here are some of the strongest reasons why companies shouldn’t think twice before apologising to customers:
1. It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one.
Customers can be unreasonable and wrong sometimes. The agitation could be because of the feeling of being treated unfairly, or having their expectations broken. Nevertheless, how well a company handles such attitudes not only reflects its concern for customer satisfaction but also its stature.
Remember: finding new customers isn’t just time-taking, it is also very expensive.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer.
Case in point: in India, ACT Fibernet, with its connectivity in limited cities and areas, managed to earn a huge customer base owing to its speedier internet when it was launched. But, because of unattended complaints and the unpleasant attitude of the customer care executives, the company started losing a bunch of its valuable customers soon. Reviews websites such as mouthshut.com and google reviews have ACT customers talking about the unacceptable ways the company responds. ACT Fibernet has since been trying to get its act together but the damage has been done because now there are other players who can easily take away ACT’s customers.
Successful companies know how important it is to retain their customers and they do everything in their power to recover an unhappy customer – apologising is the first thing.
2. Customers make it possible for us to continue with our business and its purpose.
What an amazing and profound quote from Shep Hyken! Apologising to customers means getting one step closer to them and encouraging a meaningful conversation that could do wonders to a company. When a customer is convinced that the company is genuine in its apology, he feels comfortable talking about the issue in an uncomplaining tone. He finds it easy to rely and give the company more than one chance to be satisfied. Once such a connection is established with customers, the company is sure to progress without feeling threatened about losing them, provided, of course, it acts on the issues promptly.
3. Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
The several recalls of faulty automobiles by Toyota in the past few years only goes on to prove this quote by Damon Richards. A faulty window switch that could short circuit and catch fire was the principal reason for a recall of about 6.5 million cars in 2015. That Toyota took full responsibility of its faulty products and took care of them without any hue and cry over the irreparable loss, won the confidence of several customers across the globe. Similarly, Tesla recalled its Model S after the discovery of an improperly anchored front seat belt in one Model S in Europe. It also led Tesla to inform all car owners to have their seats checked free of charge. Isn’t it a lot better to be candid about a mistake that you made and work towards correcting it, rather than ignoring it or even denying it? It is little acts like these that make customers feel loved.
Few customers choose to convey the problem with the product to a company. Others may simply move on to other companies for better services.
According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.
Imagine how many customers, who don’t even complain, are just walking away from you! So, when you get some feedback, believe that it is a chance to get better. Act on it and do everything in your power to regain the trust of the customer. Always put yourself in a customer’s shoes before responding and that alone can save you a lot of trouble. We hope you start this week with a new focus on your customer’s happiness. We would love to hear your comments or feedback below.