Last updateWed, 01 Jul 2020 1pm

Sales Growth Expert: How to turn complaints into loyalty

Countless studies have shown that a satisfied customer will tell 3 - 5 people about your store, product or service, while on the other hand, a dissatisfied customer will tell 10 - 12 people. The math here is fairly obvious. Given the choice, you’d always rather have satisfied customers.

That’s why you want to be sure and follow up with your customers so that you can determine their level of satisfaction with you, your product and/or service. And the simplest, most effective way to make this determination is to ask them.

Ask them:

  • At the time of the sale or service
  • In a follow-up customer satisfaction letter
  • During your follow-up telephone call after the sale
  • When they return for more purchases or services

(Always be the one to bring up past purchases.)

If you hear or suspect a customer is having a problem with your products or service, contact them immediately.

Why do so much asking? Here’s why - Technical Assistance Research Programs Institute revealed the following information -

  • For big-ticket durable goods, 40 percent of unhappy customers will not complain to the seller.
  • For medium-ticket durable goods, 50 percent of unhappy customers will not complain to the seller.
  • For big-ticket services, 63 percent of unhappy customers will not complain to the seller.
  • For small-ticket services, 55 percent of unhappy customers will not complain to the seller.

Moral of the story: If the customer has a problem and doesn’t complain you don’t have an opportunity to fix the problem, and if you don’t fix the problem the customer won’t come back.

The Strategic Planning Institute of Cambridge, PA, discovered that:

  • The average business never hears from 96  percent of its unhappy customers.
  • At least 90 percent of them will not visit or buy from that business again.
  • Of customers who register a complaint, 70 percent will do business with the company again if the problem is resolved.
  • Of the customers who have a complaint, 95 percent will do business again if the problem is resolved quickly.

From these studies you can conclude 3 things:

  1. Most customers do not take the time to complain about small displeasures. They just don’t return to make future purchases.
  2. It is absolutely imperative that you solve customer problems quickly. You must build a relationship of trust with your customers so that they will complain to you about problems they have with your products and services.
  3. You must get your customers to complain so you can fix their problems. If the problems are not fixed, the customer will not return. He or she will tell others about the problems they had. And other customers may be having the same problems.

Our policy is to call the customer within twelve hours after the sale, and we always ask if they fully understand everything about the transaction. This is a great time to make sure there is no customer remorse.

On one such call after selling a low cost color television the customer answered, “As a matter of fact there is a problem. The television picture is not as sharp as I think it should be.”

I arranged with the customer to have another television taken to him the next morning. We actually took two different televisions, a model like the one he had purchased and one a step-up (actually our up-sell model; the model on which we make the most profit) selling for $38 more. The technician showed the customer the like model and the step-up set. Of course the same model produced the same unsatisfactory picture and the step-up model a superior picture.

The customer paid the extra $38 plus tax, and was very satisfied. Upon my follow-up call that evening the customer thanked me for my service. A few months later that same  customer came into our furniture store asking for me. When I arrived a few minutes later he told me, “Because you took care of me when I was unsatisfied with the purchase of the television, I am here to buy new living room furniture.” That customer became a profitable customer for a lifetime of business.

As you solve your customer’s problems your relationship with them becomes stronger. Stronger relationships result in customer loyalty and increased sales.

Bob Janet - Sales consultant/trainer, speaker, author of “Join The Profit Club” combines 40 plus years as owner/operator of professional, retail, manufacturing and service businesses with his unique teaching and storytelling ability to motivate, educate and inspire business professionals of all levels and all industries for increased sales & profits. Contact Bob at 704-882-6100, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..