How to Gain/Lose a customer in ten seconds

Customer service is extremely critical and requires attention to the smallest details. A customer service manager must realize that his job is more difficult than any other manager because he has to monitor his team very closely every day. He also has to know how to motivate his team and create a spirit that helps them delight your customers.

He also has to make sure he wins back any angry customer because of any mistake done by his team. The smallest actions can either help you gain customer loyalty or on the other hand drive your customers away. And as we all know, one angry customer can make you loose from 8 to 10 other potential customers. With a simple calculation make two customers only angry and you will automatically lose around 20 customers! That is a risk no one is ready to take.
Below I will mention some real life examples of how the smallest actions can make you Gain / Lose your customer and practically in a matter of seconds.

Bad Examples

I will start with the bad examples “How to lose a customer in ten seconds”

  1. chilis.jpgOnce I went to eat at Chili’s and my husband called for the waiter to come and take our order. As he was on his way to our table, the customer in the table next to us called for him, so he shifted to his table and got what he asked for first and then came back to us. When my husband commented that we called for him first so he was supposed to serve us first, his answer was ridiculous, he said:”he is already eating and he just wants something to complete his meal”. He did not even bother to apologize. Not only that, but in the same day they brought me the glass of juice I ordered in a glass with part of its tip broken. I took a picture of it to show it in the post!

  2. Starbucks again! I went there once and asked about the brewed coffee of the day. They wrote that it has ginger and orange flavor. I asked if it can be served without the orange and ginger flavor, and I took the most sarcastic look I ever saw in my life from the waiter and he laughed sarcastically and said: ”No, we do not add the flavor, the flavor is in the coffee beans itself” I felt he wanted to tell me: you are so ignorant. My husband asked for the shift manager and we told him what happened. He said we are sorry and gave me a paper to write my comments on the service and said that it will reach the café management. I am not sure if it will really reach them or not but I filled it anyway!

  3. I went once to Trianon in City Center. I can’t remember exactly the name of the platter, but it was a chocolate cake with Ice cream. Both I and my husband ordered the same thing and we asked for the ice cream scoop on it to be chocolate. They brought us the two plates with Vanilla ice cream!! And when we said we asked for chocolate ice cream, the waiter did not even bother to apologize and he did not even listen well, as he took one plate only and changed it and left the other!. Not only that but he brought me an unclean fork to eat with. And again when I asked him to change it, he did not apologize, he just took it and brought me another one. And I am sure he will not report the incident to the shift manager to make sure the responsible person gets punished.

Many examples and all boil down to one thing, it is very difficult to gain a customer but extremely easy to lose one!

Good Examples

Below on the other hand are a couple of good examples where employees served their customer very well.

  1. My husband was buying some things from a nearby pharmacy. He asked for a certain type of Cerelac for our child but they told him they ran out of it. The man in the pharmacy took our phone number and told my husband that he will call once he has it. Later at night, he called and said that he has it, but it was late so I asked him to bring it in the morning. I was sure they will not send it and I will have to call to ask for it. But the next day I was surprised to receive a phone call from the pharmacy asking if I still want it and whether to send it! I was so happy to find that there is someone in Egypt who understands the true meaning of customer service.

  2. badr_ayad.jpgI went to Starbucks once and wanted to understand the difference between the different types of coffee beans they sell to buy a packet for my mother. The waiter who served me was extremely helpful; he explained all types in details. He explained also the difference between the different ways of grinding. I told him I wanted it to be closest to the Turkish coffee people drink, so he recommended one type to me. Then he explained how he can grind it for me, the Turkish way to make it suitable for a Turkish cup of coffee. Even after I made up my mind and bought the coffee pack and he grinded it for me, he explained to me that it has to be kept in its pack to stay fresh. He showed me something like a button in the pack that works on sucking away the carbon dioxide from the pack to keep the coffee fresh. That was an extra step on his side, as I already bought the pack so he was not doing it to make me buy but he was serving me right. He was very helpful and answered all my questions without making me feel that I am asking too much. He made me feel that he loves his job and wants to make his customer happy so he does his best to please him. I was satisfied enough that I was interested to know his name and take his picture to put it here in the post.

It is really a matter of seconds and you can win or lose your customer.  Even if you make a mistake and make your customer angry, if you start with an apology before saying anything else it will make a lot of difference.  But if you start justifying your actions or act as if your customer is asking for too much, you will lose him.  

If you want to delight your customers and win their loyalty you have to do not only your best but go the extra mile.


9 thoughts on “How to Gain/Lose a customer in ten seconds

  1. I’ve found that customer service is dependent on a lot of things but not necessarily the employee. Factors such as poor management, inadequate training or motivational issues are often the root cause of problems.

    Happy responsible employees are often the difference between a successful company and a failing one. Of course, there are always exceptions and when someone has a bad day or makes a small mistake (such as serving people in the wrong order), my philosophy is always to “sit back and smell the roses”.

  2. I think you touched on a very good subject here. In fact, your comments on the service problems you encountered came as a relief to me. I used to think me and my wife are the only freaks concerned about the quality of service we get everywhere we go. At some point we almost believed we’re some sort of snobs for being on the watch for the quality of service we get anywhere we go. When we pay top dollar, you should get top service.
    As much as I believe that any commercial activity can, one way or the other, be categorized as part of the service sector, there must be a much higher stress on the quality of service you get in the catering and hospitality business. For example, I don’t expect to go dine at a 5-star restaurant and be seated at poorly cleaned table with a greasy top, or get cold soup. Such examples and the one you mentioned are everywhere around the country. If you get this kind of service at “allegedly” top-notch, classy places like the ones you mentioned, what should you expect from mediocre, second rate places?
    The problem in Egypt is that the rating criteria are haphazard and loosely controlled. Any hotel for example can get a new star just for serving alcohol at its main restaurant or bar, or digging up a new large swimming pool. And it’s equally easy to maintain the reputation and the rating once they get it. There is a complete lack of follow up and an there is an intentional indifference to customers’ feedback and reviews. There is no consideration for the basic quality indicators that matter to most customers, such as cleanliness, responsiveness and friendliness of the staff, and the quality and speed of service. I guess part of the problem is with the customers who settle for any kind of service or quality regardless where they are & how much they paid.
    I know these problems exist everywhere around the world. But the real difference is that on the other side of the world, hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops are treated with an iron rod and are always under inspection. The competition is too tough that they can’t afford to lose a single customer. They always have to keep an open mind to customer feedback and comments. Over there, it is so easy to lose a rating or a customer, while it is pretty darn difficult to win them back.

  3. @Niladri : Well even if you have a super product but offer a bad customer service, you will lose your customers gradually. People prefer to settle for a little bit less quality product but enjoy a great customer service experience, over having a super product and being treated so badly.

  4. I believe that customer service standards and procedures differ from a country to another, that is, if you reach Starbucks at any US or any European country you would not reach such conclusion. This is basically, I think, a budgeting issue that sets a specific level of quality standards per customer retention regional plan!!
    This helps one way or another to balance quality and cost, so that less profitable (or planned for profitability) regions deserve less customer service attention whether personnel training, management or auditing.

    • Hi Mohamed,

      Thanks for your comment but I partially disagree. Customer service is always important no matter how profitable your business is. In fact a great customer service is what guarantees your profitability so no one deserves less customer service attention. Yes, customer service standards differ from one country to another but when we are talking about an international brand, their standards for customer service and quality have to be the same everywhere.

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