When I was at uni, I did an assignment on Starbucks and read an article about CEO Howard Shultz’s view on customer experience management. Shultz is keen on Starbucks exceeding customer expectations, providing positive experiences and excellent customer service. That’s not unusual and I imagine all retailers share this aim, but Shultz’s reasoning was unique. He believes that:
- If you have an average experience, you’ll tell no one;
- If you have a great experience, you’ll tell 2-3 people, and;
- If you have a bad experience, you’ll tell 7 people.
Back in the good old days, those 7 people might have been enough to prevent a family or a small circle of friends from visiting your establishment. That’s a problem, but it’s not too difficult to replace a few unhappy customers.
Online, these 7 people have power. They have a voice. They completely change the game. Those 7 people, all of a sudden, turn into 7,000 followers and tribes like this can make a difference. They can soon spread your bad experience across the globe in minutes.
I watched this Lurpack example raise from 37K likes to 40.2K likes in less than a minute. It just kept going.
And it’s not just bad experiences that can land you in trouble, so can not keeping your promise. This Subway customer wasn’t happy about being robbed of an inch of sarnie.
And he’s got a point. You can’t give something a label, then not deliver on that promise (although plenty of lads do that every Friday night, don’t they girls).
Because of the Internet, this dude didn’t just tell his few mates for a daft crack, he wrote an article that was shared across social media and will stay there forever.
Customer Experience Management: When Shit Gets Real
These examples are obviously extreme and are mostly people taking the piss, but you don’t have to look much further than Trip Advisor to find genuine unhappy customers voicing their unhappiness at thousands of potential holiday makers and foodies. And as much as you try to take these reviews with a pinch of salt, if a restaurant or hotel has more negative reviews than positive, I bet you’d click Back and not even bother reading them.
The good news
… is that the 2-3 people that hear about the good experiences are amplified, too. Positive reviews and praise speak volumes and can spread online just as quick and just as far.
Fans and fanatics can do a good job marketing on your behalf if you play you cards right, surpass expectations and provide positive customer experiences, like this alleged Audi fan:
So Aim for the word to spread to 3 people. Aim to excel. Aim to surpass expectations.
Meet them and you’ll go unknown, come up short and you’ll pay the price, surpass them and you’ll be remembered and talked about. And isn’t that the whole point?