It’s well known that people are much more likely to tell their friends about a bad customer experience than a good one and two contrasting experiences highlighted this to me recently.
According to this report, British customers are three times more likely to tell friends about bad service than they are about good service. 97.7% would simply take their business elsewhere.
A BenQ monitor stopped working within a year of purchase so I raised a returns query online with the manufacturer. A prompt email response provided me with instructions on how to return the monitor and when it would be picked up. There would be no charge to me (unless it was found to be fault-free), a replacement would be shipped once tests were complete and I was told pick-up would be the next day. I didn’t have to provide any proof of purchase or go through any mind numbing troubleshooting steps. The process so far was smooth, automated and hassle free.
The next day a courier arrived with a padded box for the faulty monitor to go in. Great, I didn’t have to worry about packing it properly. But then the surprise…the padded box contained my replacement monitor! The courier dropped off my replacement and packed up the faulty monitor without BenQ running tests to prove the fault. A quick turnaround in 24 hours.
You could argue the monitor shouldn’t have needed replacing within a year, or that the email reply didn’t make it clear a replacement would be delivered or packaging would be provided but these were minor points that didn’t matter to me. My expectations were exceeded and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Before my monitor experience, I would have described BenQ as a low cost, budget IT manufacturer. But as a result of great service, my opinion of them changed favourably.
But interestingly I hardly told anyone about the experience.
The same week I spent half a day waiting at home for a visit from Virgin Media, a company I had previously thought good of, to install a TiVo box. No-one turned up and there was no phone call, text or email. So I called Virgin to find out what was going on, only to be told their records showed the appointment was for two weeks time.
I cancelled the upgrade, unhappy at having wasted half a day and unwilling to spend another half day waiting in, particularly as I had to pay for the engineer visit. As a result they lost an upgrade customer and I lost out on something I wanted.
The mistake was entirely mine. I booked the upgrade online with a provisional date and somehow failed to notice that the date in the confirmation email was different. But by the time I realised this it was too late. I had already re-told the story to family and friends and felt hard done by that Virgin hadn’t done more to appease me.
Responding to complaints
I sent a message via Twitter to Virgin Media, not expecting a reply. Promptly they responded, asking if a reason was given for the mix-up. This small response made me feel that perhaps they did care, maybe just a tiny bit. Then I realised the error was mine. But how many people did I tell? One, maybe two. And I didn’t post a follow up on Twitter. By that time my focus was elsewhere and it just didn’t seem important.
Using social media to improve customer relations
This highlighted something else to me. Yes, people are far more likely to tell friends about a bad experience but it can be possible to turn this experience around if the response exceeds the customer’s expectations.
By responding to my tweet, Virgin made me feel more valued than I had done previously. They could have followed this up further, perhaps by investigating (which of course would have shown me to be at fault!) or by offering me a discount. They would then have provided me with more than I expected. I would have been far more likely to tweet about that, post on Facebook or tell my friends. This would have largely undone the negativity spread by me re-telling the original experience.
The final lesson here is check your emails. It might just be your fault. Sorry Virgin…