It doesn’t take something as unforgivable as, say, delivering the mistress’ arrangement to the wife, to lose a customer. Quite the contrary, sometimes the tiniest fracture in customer service (your sales person kept the customer on hold a little too long, your driver left flowers on the front stoop, etc.), if it goes undetected and, consequently, unaddressed, can sever a relationship.
Rick Reynolds, founder of AskForensics, calls such incidents “customer service cracks.” Fortunately, with a little detective work, you can fix them and prevent customers who haven’t ordered your flowers lately from disappearing into the abyss.
- Don’t make assumptions. It’s easy to assume why a customer went away, but it’s worth the effort to uncover facts to reveal the truth. You may discover little things you didn’t realize were slowly turning customers off. Maybe you have a sales person who interrupts callers. Perhaps your e-blasts go out a little frequently. Inadequate parking may make your shop inconvenient for cash and carry customers.
- Cross-validate findings. One nasty Yelper does not necessarily mean your shop has sub-par service. Nor should one giddy note from a bride suggest you’re in tiptop shape. Identifying perceived flaws that have real teeth requires you to ask around. An anonymous survey may reveal areas that need improvement. You could also poll customers you know will be candid. Multiple sources, or “pieces of evidence,” help you evaluate the troubled customer relationship from top to bottom.
- Act on evidence. After you’ve asked customers, “What have we done to make you stop buying our flowers?” follow up on their suggestions. Have a gruff sales person? Schedule a customer service seminar. Have your arrangements gotten too expensive for a former customer? Try adding some more small designs at lower price points. And be sure to catalogue your investigations for quick reference when you check up on the customer a few months or years down the line.