Look after your customers and value complaints!

With many of the clients I have worked with in the past – their key focus from a marketing perspective is always about achieving new customers. 

Whilst it’s important to look ahead at new markets and audiences, it’s also important to continue to nurture the customers that you already have.  After all, they are 6 times more likely to purchase services from you than a ‘cold’ audience.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you doing everything you can to nurture your current customer base, creating advocates that spread the word and refer you to others?
  • When was the last time your surveyed your customers to find out what they thought about your service / product?
  • How valuable are your customers?  Is the value of your customer base varied?  Do some spend more with you?  Are you spending more time on customers that are not very valuable?  How can you make them more valuable?

Here’s a valuation model you might want to consider:

The value of a customer to your business is the annual net profit you make from that customer, multiplied by the number of years that customer is likely to deal with you, plus the value of an average of 10 new customers recommended by your satisfied customer. 

Listening to your customers is key to understanding how your products and services are working in the real world.  And running a customer survey should not be something which creates sheer panic - usually about receiving complaints.

Smart businesses are those that actively encourage and welcome complaints.  Here’s why: 

  • The average business never hears from 96% of its unhappy customers.  For every complaint received, the average business has 26 customers with problems, of which 6 are ‘serious’.  So if you gauge the standard of your service by the number of complaints you receive, you’re dealing only with the tip of the iceberg.
  •  Complainers are more likely than non-complainers to do business again with you – even though you’ve upset them and even if their complaint isn’t satisfactorily resolved. 
  • Of customers who register a complaint, between 54 and 70% will do business again with the organisation if their complaint is resolved.  That figure goes up to a staggering 95% if the customer feels that the complaint was resolved quickly.  So you should be doing everything possible to deal with complaints quickly and thoroughly.
  • The average customer who has had a problem with an organisation tells 10 people about it, and 13% recount the incident to more than 20 people.
  • Customers who complain to an organisation and have their complaints satisfactorily resolved tell up to 5 people about the positive treatment they received.    

Because of my passion for customer service, I tend to do a lot of complaining – and never before has the power of complaining been more ‘connected’.  There are established blogs and forums out there just waiting for people to add their complaints to and unite with others – and of course, you can always start one if one doesn’t already exist.  Word of mouth when recounting negative incidents – is no longer restricted to 10, there’s now the power of viral to contend with – so, all the more reason for service excellence, listening to customers and welcoming complaints.

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