Test the Welcome Mat

One of the best ways to know for sure if customers really count is to evaluate how an organization deals with complaints. At one of our Dream Retreats, we learned from a participant whose daughter manages a Limited, Inc. store location in Arizona that the company will dismiss a store manager who receives three unresolved customer complaints.

At first, we were somewhat taken aback by the severity of this practice, but after a little research into the effects of customer complaints on the bottom line, we realized that the policy makes very good sense. The Technical Assistance Research Programs Corporation of Washington, D.C., which publishes statistics on customer complaints, has found that for every customer complaint that an organization receives, there are 26 other dissatisfied customers who will remain silent. Each of the 27 dissatisfied customers will tell 8 to 16 others about the experience, and 10 percent will tell more than 20 other potential customers. If you do the arithmetic, you will find that three complaints translate into more than 1,000 potential customers hearing about poor service a company provided. No company can afford to drag its feet when handling customer complaints.

We have been wowed many times by Disney’s exceptional attention to guest problems and complaints. One example occurred when we were visiting Disney World with a group of clients.

After we had all checked into the hotel, we quickly departed for dinner. As we were riding along in one of the in-park buses that shuttle visitors around Disney World, the driver asked us how our rooms were. One of our clients mentioned that the faucet in his bar sink had an annoying drip, and he added taht he hadn’t had time yet to report it to maintenance.

“Sir, I’ll take care of it for you,” the driver assured him.

We didn’t give it another thought, but when we got back from dinner about 10 o’clock, the faucet was fixed. And then, more impressive yet, shortly thereafter the driver showed up on his own time to make sure that the problem had been taken care of. This is the level of service you should aim for when you ask your employees to treat every customer like a guest in their own homes. The bus driver was truly committed to making the guest experience the best it could possibly be. That is service with a capital “S.”

— Obtained from the book, The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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