I recently purchased a dress. The dress was a lovely vibrant red, my favourite colour. I wore it on Christmas Day and felt festive and fabulous in my new red dress. At the end of a wonderful day with family I took off the dress to and was horrified to see that my underwear and skin were stained with toxic red dye. Turns out the dress contained residual dye, which is a common trick of manufacturers to make a garment look more vibrant in colour.
As soon as the Christmas break was over, I rang the company from whom I purchased the dress to state my complaint and request that they replace my underwear. The initial response I received was “We have sold hundreds of that dress and no-one else has complained about that!” Were they calling me a liar? Did I not have that experience? Perhaps it didn’t really happen and I dreamt it? They then asked me to call another number to speak with someone else. Hmmm, the first hoop to jump through. I am becoming a little frustrated with this company.
I dutifully rang the number they gave me and repeated my story to the next person, to the response “Email me the receipts for the dress and photos and receipts for the underwear and I’ll see what we can do!” Seems I have another hoop to jump through. I am a customer, not a circus performer. I have just had a horrific experience with toxic dye penetrating my skin and staining my underwear and I have to now go out of my way to prove my innocence. I am a frequent customer of this clothing company and they are treating me with suspicion, as if I am trying to rip them off. As you can imagine I am becoming more irate and fast losing trust in this company that I have trustingly invested in as a customer
So how can you avoid any of your customers having the same experience and losing trust in your company?
1. Always give customers the benefit of the doubt. It’s not worth losing a good customer by treating them with suspicion. Sure, there is always the 1% who’s only motive will be to try to get something out of you for free, but your loss will be minimal compared to what you will lose by treating a loyal customer as a liar.
2. Look at the big picture. Don’t waste time and energy trying to make a good customer prove their point in a minor situation. You will gain much more by immediately apologising and asking them what you can do to rectify the situation. When you have looked after them in the tough times, they will become a much more loyal customer and tell their friends.
Growing a successful business is tough and by being smart with the way you treat you customers, you will have them returning and telling their friends – a very simple and effective marketing strategy. I wish you and your business a very successful and prosperous 2011.