A Lesson from Lunch about Customer Retention

Last week I decided to try a new Chinese Restaurant near the office for lunch and ordered a small Chicken Chow Mein. When I received my plate, it was a few pieces of chicken, some celery and 90% onions. I thought that was odd and maybe they made me the wrong meal. Rather than question it or send it back, I decided to just eat it and not order that plate again from that restaurant.

Today I went back and decided to order something different. My plate showed up and it was very good. A few minutes after I received my plate, a woman at a different table asked the waitress, “What type of seafood is supposed to be in the Seafood Combo Plate?” The waitress replied with, “ Lobster, Shrimp, Crab and Scallops.”  The woman then said “Yeah, well there’s no Lobster or Shrimp!”

The waitress went in the back and started yelling at the cook in Chinese, then brought him out and publicly embarrassed him. She then told the woman she would get her some Shrimp. (not sure what happened to the lobster) She brought the woman a plate with two Shrimp on it. The woman then asked if that is all she was supposed to get with the plate. The waitress said “Well we would need to cook more… ok, I will get you some more.”

So how does this relate to customer retention as it relates to Internet Marketing?lobsterIf we look at my first experience, I did not get what I paid for, or at least not what I expected,  and now I distrust anything else they might be selling until they earn my trust back. If this was an Internet sale I would most likely never buy from the merchant again and they would never know why or even know they lost me as a customer as I never spoke up. This is commonplace in the Internet world. Most people just assume they got ripped off and never buy from you again if you don’t provide what they expect or even more.

Now let’s look at the woman’s experience. Not only did she not get what she expected, but even after speaking up the customer service was terrible and still didn’t get what she expected until she expressed more disatisfaction. Then she was given what she thought she originally ordered, minus the Lobster. (still don’t know what happened to the Lobster) Let me ask you, do you think she trusts the merchant? Will she buy from them again? I think the answer to both of those questions is no! The only difference in this situation is that the merchant likely knows they lost her as a customer. Hopefully they learned from the transaction, but based on how they treated their own employee I think that’s unlikely.

So, in a nutshell, make sure you provide your customer with what they expected or more based on what you told them you would provide. If they are unhappy, provide the best possible customer service you can so they leave trusting you and happy with the outcome. If you do that, you might keep them as a loyal customer. If you screw up, make it right and then some!

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