I live in suburbia blessed with one nice park, one supermarket, one bakery and not less than 3 pizza joints within walking distance. The pizzerias are all right – but not great – and all in the same price range. Based on the number of flyers ending up in my mailbox, you can tell that they know about the competition.
The other day I called the nearest one to leave an order, let’s call the joint, Tony’s Pizza. To my surprise I couldn’t get through. I tried again from another phone. Still just “beep-beep-beep”. I decided to walk down there to leave my order.
When I entered Tony’s Pizza it was around 5.30 PM. There wasn’t a single customer within sight – just Tony and one of his employees. I went to the desk and said that I tried to leave an order via the phone and that they may want to check if everything was all right. Tony got upset. He jumped up from his seat, and ran around in circles to find the phone. After a minute of total confusion he found the phone. He yelled at his colleague and asked why he didn’t charge it last night. I was still waiting to leave my order.
Tony charged the phone and checked if it worked all right. Still grumpy about his potential lost business he finally asked me what I wanted. “A pizza number eight, please”, I replied. I got my pizza a little later without a smile or any kind of acknowledgement that a random customer actually saved Tony’s Pizza from leaving more revenue on the floor.
On my way home I couldn’t help thinking about the three obvious mistakes Tony made when serving his customer:
In most cases, listening to feedback from customers and acting on it will help you earn more money; especially, if you become aware of obvious flaws in your processes that waste your customers’ precious time. When getting such feedback you can either:
May I suggest option number 2? It’s a perfect occasion to start building bonds with the customer. You may even end up getting a brand advocate out of the effort.
When he found out why no pizzas were ordered the entire afternoon, Tony picked a bad combo of options number 1 and 3. He was more concerned about his cash-flow than serving his customers and got so upset about the lost revenue that he forgot all about serving his customers well.
Or as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it: Customer opinions are ultimately what your brand and business reputation are made of and thanks to online technologies “Word of mouth is on steroids”. Besides, customer service is the only core differentiator in a competitive market and – roughly speaking – the only other alternative to slashed prices, if you want to increase market share.
Using social media, people share their opinions and shopping experiences like never before, and today consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of advertising. For some reason, Tony never heard about this.
Statistically, customer loyalty is unevenly distributed. The average Net Promoter Score is 8.4 on an 11-point rating scale and the most frequent business rating on Trustpilot is 5 out of 5 stars, which means that customers are more loyal than you think.
It’s not that complicated: If you shop somewhere and you get what you needed, why go somewhere else next time? However, the line between a loyal and a lost customer is fine, and it may not take more than a single bad experience for a customer to choose your competitor the next time. And if you don’t pay attention to what’s being said about your company, how would you know why your customers never return?
Share your thoughts in the comments below – or next time you meet me at Dino’s Pizza!