When we order a pair of sunglasses on Amazon, we want them on our doorstep yesterday. When we join a new trendy gym, we expect to lose 10 lbs in the first week. When we get into a pointless argument with a friend about which species of bear is the largest, we yell at a little gadget in the kitchen to tell the answer. The point is, we don’t want to wait for anything anymore, and businesses know that. The culture of instant gratification is here to stay, and while most products and services have caught up to fast-paced customers, it takes more to stay on top.

Think about the last time you had to navigate the endless menu of a customer support line. Maybe your blood boiled when you spent an entire afternoon in a doctor’s office waiting room and someone who showed up late was seen before you. Customer experience is now more important than ever, and a poor one can be damning.

An alarming 33% of Americans are willing to switch products or services after just one poor experience. Dissatisfied customers tell 36% more people about their experience than happy ones do. First-class entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Tony Hsieh are more than aware of the fact that US businesses lose an average of $62 billion a year to poor customer service, and their success is largely built on making sure that revenue never walks out the door in the first place. They know that customers want excellent service, and they want it right this very second. You don’t get to become leaders in customer experience like Amazon and Zappos without having a system in place to guarantee every customer gets excellent, timely service.

This may sound like a herculean task (especially when measured on a Bezos scale), but with the availability of tried and true methods like the Net Promoter System, it’s more attainable than you’d think. Your customer feedback efforts have to be as fast as your customers’ expect them to be: instantaneous. When you implement NPS with a system like Listen360 that compiles feedback in real time, you can match that blistering pace. Faster follow-up and quicker mobilization to change practices that cause friction will work to keep those customers from falling through the cracks. Speed shows commitment, and your customers will certainly notice.

In a blacksmith’s home, there are only wooden spoons.

The plumber’s house always has a dripping tap.

Proverbs such as these are scattered throughout cultures around the globe. The phenomenon is quite universal: sometimes we become so consumed by our profession, so preoccupied with projecting our talents outward, that we forget to look inward long enough to provide for our own families.

Rapidly growing businesses often have impressive and proven strategies for customer acquisition. An influx of new customers is an exciting statistic glimmering with the promise of revenue and growth. It is so exciting that it can dominate all of our efforts and resources. But what about the customers we already have?

When customers choose to buy your product or service, they become part of your brand family. Whether it is reluctantly or enthusiastically, they take up your banner in some fashion. Nurture and respect a cohesive family unit, and it can bolster the brand’s image, value, and future prospects. Consumers see a proud and happy brand family and jump at the chance to join. Neglect or mistreat that family, however, and you may quickly find frustration and disillusionment that could lead to an exodus.

Retention is an integral aspect of growth. It is exhilarating to look outward towards prospects with an appetite to conquer new territory. Fail to take care of the folks at home, though, and you might have a revolt on your hands. Slowing down to make sure customers have proper care and attention will greatly improve a business’ odds of survival. A high retention rate ultimately drives profitability and increases the value of a customer lifetime.

Just like customer acquisition, customer retention needs carefully planned programs. For some insight, take a look at this webinar with John Schroeder of Nova Foresight and Angela Bossie of Listen360. Tune in to follow along as these two experts map out the path to higher retention rates with 3 essential strategies.


Watch the recording here.

He was losing it. He tried to turn away to hide it, but Paul caught a flash of building rage on his face.

“That was painful to watch,” he said through gritted teeth in an unnervingly level voice.

“You said it would be OK,” Paul started, reeling from the reaction, but he was cut off by the steadily rising volume of the other man.

“Just stop,” the irate man spat, “I have to walk away before I…” he trailed off as he stormed over to the chain link fence that separated his front yard from a drainage ditch.

Paul couldn’t imagine what the end of that sentence could possibly have been. Stunned, he stood silently for a moment and watched the man’s knuckles turn white as he gripped a fence post and stared into the distance. This one was certainly going to be a challenge.

This, quite surprisingly, was an actual customer service interaction. It was dramatic, it was unexpected, and it was even a bit frightening at points, but it was, at the end of the day, a fairly low-stakes customer service situation gone awry. Many customers surprise business owners with patience and kindness in the face of a problem, and they are often easily swayed into the promoter category if the problem is remedied correctly. A few customers, however, erupt at the slightest sign of turbulence during service and can seem too hostile or stubborn to salvage. While they may not seem worth all the pain and effort, when handled correctly, these individuals often tend to surprise business owners in quite a different way.

Paul was an eager twenty-something running business development for a portable storage and moving franchisee. In his territory’s infancy, there were only three or four team members, so everyone did everything from sales and marketing to truck driving and manual labor. The company’s wheelhouse was one to two bedroom apartments and small homes that could fit in just one of their containers. This particular customer caught them off guard by placing what was by far the largest order to date. He needed four containers-worth of storage packed and stored and then moved to a new home. Even with all hands on deck, it was a logistical nightmare. As backbreaking as it was, though, all the overwhelmed team could do was smile and put in a couple fifteen-hour days. They were very green and in desperate need of customers.

Servicing the order started out relatively smoothly. The third-party labor help showed up on time, and the pace was ahead of schedule. Paul had no prior experience driving trucks or hauling large cargo, but he was one of only two employees insured to make deliveries at the time. Delivering the second and third storage containers had fallen to him. Despite a week of practice with the rig, he still had some difficulty backing the 5,000lb trailer into the angled driveway.

“This grass here is firm, you can roll over it with the truck if that helps,” the owner shouted to him from his lawn.

“Are you sure?” Paul was skeptical. Property damage was always a big concern on these jobs.

“Go for it!” The man seemed pretty certain.

It was an 8”x5” patch. Another driver measured it eventually out of curiosity. An area the size of a large envelope was all it took to turn this seemingly agreeable homeowner into a seething wildcard. One of Paul’s tires had spun out in the lawn and brought the whole job crashing down around him. He was bewildered and at a loss, and it would turn out that the customer needed some time to calm himself. What Paul and his team did next, though, would rewrite the likely outcome of this upsetting scene.

As powerful as “I’m sorry” is, sometimes it does not get through the first time. Paul offered some free products and asked how he could make things right.

“You can’t, can you?” The customer seemed to have made up his mind, and eventually refused to even speak to Paul, shutting the garage door on him as he pleaded for a resolution. Paul was beside himself, but he knew he had to think of something. He informed a superior of the situation immediately, and they got to work on a solution.

The next day, Paul’s boss showed up to the customer’s house slightly earlier than the scheduled loading time. They figured Paul should hang back until the customer had time to regain his composure. His boss was armed not with another apology but with a grass fork, the correct strain of grass seed, chocolates for the customer’s wife, and a discount on delivery services. He was willing to get down in the dirt on his hands and knees to resolve the problem, and with this sign of contrition, the man started to realize that maybe he had overreacted. Just a little.

When Paul eventually rejoined the servicing efforts, he not only received several warm handshakes and compliments from the man who could barely stand to look at him the day before, but he was pleasantly surprised with gleaming 5-star reviews and testimonials online. The customer event went on to refer some new business to the company.

No matter how hopeless a customer service situation seems, there is always a chance for redemption. When an apology and the regular course of action do not do the trick, it might be time to get creative. The greatest detractor a business has ever seen may become its biggest advocate, even if its the man who cares too much about his lawn.

When you sign a check, you’re sure to know where it’s going. When you invest, you monitor the markets. As a business, you can’t afford to treat your brand any differently.

Every time a customer chooses to spend with your brand, you’re putting your signature on the experience that customer receives. In the early days of franchising, the business embodies your vision and passion for exemplary customer service. As you grow and entrust your brand to more franchisees and locations, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure the same quality across the expanse of your organization. Your dedication to your customers got you to where you are today; it’s time you saw that in action all over your network.

Meet the Net Promoter System. A product of years of research at Bain and Company, NPS is the pinnacle of customer feedback tools. The system reveals exactly how your customers feel about your brand. You can see which practices are working and which are causing friction on a regional, individual location, or even team member level.

Giants like Apple and Amazon use these proven metrics to understand how their customers are feelingestablish accountability for the customer experience, and confidently predict future profits. With more than two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 behind it, the NPS formula is certainly worth examining.

We’ve watched franchises use NPS in various ways to create ecstatic customer bases over the years. While each industry naturally has nuances, the general application and strategy around customer feedback remains very similar and very effective. We put these observations into an eBook that can guide you through the ins and outs of customer engagement through NPS. Don’t miss out; give it a read here.


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