How you handle the business when you get it is at least as important as bringing it in, in the first place. If you don’t deliver a positive experience, meaning that you deliver all you promised and then some, customers are going to be disappointed, according to a recent article by Larry Mersereau, small business consultant, speaker and author in the field of marketing and promotion.
He notes that disappointed customers can do a number of things:
1) "They can complain. This is the ideal situation. I know, nobody likes complaints. But at least this type of customer is going to give you an opportunity to make things right. Suck it up and do what’s right. If your sales person lied or if your promises are a bit exaggerated and they’re calling you on it, fix the problem or cheerfully refund their money."
2) "Maybe they won’t complain, but they’ll tell their friends. (See, wouldn’t you rather be the one they complain to?) Most people won’t complain. They’re embarrassed, or afraid you’ll bite or whatever. They won’t tell you they have a problem, but they’ll ruin your reputation every chance they get. They can cost you a lot of potential sales, and you won’t even know it’s going on."
3) "They may just quietly go away. That’s better than telling their friends. But you lose any chance of getting future business from this customer. And face it, it takes a lot to get someone to buy from you the first time. It doesn’t take much to get a happy customer to buy from you the second time. Making sure you deliver the first time makes long-term growth a lot easier."
4) "Some sue. I’m sure you saw the story about the judge that sued his dry-cleaner for millions of dollars because they lost a pair of his pants temporarily. They found the pants, but the judge still sued. Frivolous as the lawsuit was, the dry-cleaner had to spend thousands of dollars defending themselves. If you pretend every customer is looking for an opportunity to sue, maybe you’ll be more careful about what you promise and how you deliver."
Part of your overall business growth strategy, Merserearu comments, has got to be getting more business from people who are already buying from you. People who have already done business with you are the best source for future business. They know you, know how to find you, how to do business with you, and they’ve had a positive experience with you.
According to Merserearu, every new sale is the beginning of a relationship—one that can be hugely profitable for you in the long term...if you handle the first transaction well. Deliver all you promise and then some. Next time they need what you sell, they’ll know exactly where they prefer to buy.
Source: Larry Mersereau (July 31, 2007). “Deliver what you Promise? Bringing In More Business.” (electronic newsletter)