Strategies: How to lose a customer in 10 days

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: November 18, 2013

Colleen Stanley

There are still reports of companies struggling in a post-recession economy. Slow growth is blamed on Wall Street, the White House and enemies overseas. All sound like valid reasons; however, it might be a time to stop looking at factors from the outside affecting revenues and take a closer look inside your organization. Are you creating raving fans or customers that are raving mad?

Case in point. A colleague purchased a computer earlier this year. Within a week, the infamous blue screen showed up, the computer shut down and had to be returned. The retailer replaced the “lemon” with a new computer.

Six months later, Murphy’s Law appears and my colleague’s second computer blows up. This return was not handled as well as the first. She left her computer at the store so they could troubleshoot the problem. The next day, she received a cheery voicemail informing her that her computer needed to be sent back to the manufacturer for further analysis, which would take about seven to 10 days. (My colleague had purchased a $300 warranty ­­— to prevent this type of hassle.)

So let’s ask few questions around this selling/customer service scenario:

• What business person can afford to be without their business computer seven to 10 days?

• What retailer leaves this type of information on voicemail? (It’s kind of like a doctor leaving a message that the test results weren’t good — we need to operate.)

• Would it make sense to jump through hoops to keep this client satisfied because it was her second computer blow-up in six months?

Unfortunately, my colleague had to do what most people have to do to get the service she deserves and paid for. She got upset; she got pushy and had to speak with four different people to finally get another computer.

This company, like many, focuses heavily on winning new business each year. What would happen to their revenues if they focused this intensely on keeping their current clients happy? Too often business comes in the door and exits out the back door due to lack or service.

So what are the “10-day policies” or way of doing business at your company? Are you building raving fans or raving mad customers?

Here are three things to incorporate to create raving fans.

1. Secret-shop your own company. Document the experience from the person answering the phone and/or greeting your clients. Is the first impression one of warmth or is more like “you are interrupting my day?” Do you have a customized sign in your reception area that says, “Welcome, Daniel Brown” or do your customers walk into a reception area looking for signs of life?

What’s your sales process like? Is your sales team consultative or are they still using outdated trial closes? What’s it like to return a product or service? Do your customers have to provide a sworn affidavit to prove they didn’t get what they paid for? Or are they treated with respect and asked, “I am sorry we fell short. What would you like us to do to make up for our error?”

2. Apply common sense. Most people will tell you that time is their most valuable asset. Do you really think your good, (not bad) customers want to take time out of their busy schedule to return a defective product or complain about below average service? No! Most people just want whatever they have purchased to work.

Yes, there are customers that take advantage of the system — maybe 5 percent. However, far too many companies focus on this small percentage of scoundrels to the detriment of the 90 percent who are fair and reasonable. As a result, problems are not addressed quickly and painlessly.

3. Study and duplicate companies that create great client experiences. Zappos, the online shoe company, grew to $1 billion in sales in 10 years. The company is known for providing a great customer experience. Order shoes and experience the WOW factor. Your first shipment arrives overnight, at no extra charge. WOW! If you return all nine pairs of shoes, there are no lie-detector tests or dusting of heels to determine if you wore the shoes. Zappos recognizes its customers shop online because they are too busy and/or have no desire to go to a crowded mall.

Zappos probably receives returned shoes that have been worn. Yes, they may have some dishonest customers. However, they choose to focus on the majority of their customer who are honest, busy, and hate to shop in a store. It’s common sense.

Are you losing customers because of your “10-day policies?” Secret-shop your company, apply common sense and duplicate great companies. Make sure your revenues aren’t going out the back door. And as for my colleague with computer troubles? She is moving her future business to a more client-friendly retailer.

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of ‘Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success’ and ‘Growing Great Sales Teams.’  Reach Colleen at 303-708-1128 or visit

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