Today, consumers have more influence than at any other time in modern history. Social media, blogs, and product reviews are just a few channels through which consumers can voice their experience with a brand’s products and level of support. The opinions they share have significant weight with other consumers; it’s one reason Amazon is so popular.
Recently, I called the lawn maintenance company I have used for the last 12 years to tell them about an issue with my front lawn. It rained for several days, and they came out to do a treatment on the property while the ground was soaking wet. To make matters worse, my front lawn is steeply sloped. The technician made deep indentations in the lawn while walking back and forth across the yard to do the treatment.
I sent a text with photos of the lawn, then spoke with the regional manager about it. He replied, “my tech doesn’t weigh 100lbs; he couldn’t have possibly caused the damage.” He suggested that maybe I had caused the damage and didn’t realize it.
All I wanted them to do was fill the ruts with sand. Eventually, the Bermuda grass would cover up the damage. Instead, I was left with the impression that I was trying to get someone else to repair an issue I had caused. I canceled my service and left a detailed online review of my experience.
Large brands understand the importance of consumer experience. Companies like Mercedes Benz® have increased their customer support budget by 40%. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can fall into the trap of being so emotionally and financially tied to their business that it hinders them from seeing their customer’s perspectives. See where you fall in this scenario.
A customer sends you an email about a broken part on a $2,000 riding lawnmower they bought from you 18 months ago. You offer a 1-year warranty on parts and labor. Your cost for the part is $9.99, and your retail price is $19.99. How would you respond?
You tell them you’re sorry about the issue and there is nothing you can do because it is out of warranty. You include a link to the part in the email so the customer can purchase it on your website. If the customer buys it, you make a profit of $10.
You kindly remind them that the part is out of warranty. You include a link to the part in the email and a coupon code for free shipping so the customer can purchase it on your website. The shipping cost is $7.50, so you make a profit of $2.50.
You kindly inform them that it is out of warranty, but you value their business. You will be happy to ship the part free of charge or install it if the customer brings the lawnmower to your shop. There is a cost with no profit. Depending on the customer’s decision, your cost is between $9.99 and $17.49.
How Would You Respond?
Technically, there is no wrong response. It depends on the strategy you have for your business. For some, it is short-term profits; for others, it is long-term growth. My position is to be “remarkable” in customer experience. To be responsive and resolve issues worthy of my customer “remarking” about their experience to others. We are in agreement if you see the Response C cost as a marketing expense.