If you are in the service business--for that matter if you are in any business--no matter how hard you try to be perfect, sooner or later a customer is not going to be pleased with the service they receive. The inevitability of it shouldn't discourage you from trying to be perfect, but when a mistake happens the recovery should become job #1.
That dissatisfied customers tell their friends is a fact. How many they tell on average varies depending on the study referenced but it is somewhere between 4 and 10. One study notes that those they tell are 5 times less likely to come to your business than the original dissatisfied customer. Ouch.
But there is hope. According to Restaurant Hospitality "Rule-of-thumb numbers show that roughly 60 percent of complaining customers will eat at your restaurant again if you resolve their service issue, and almost all customers (96 percent in some studies) will come back if you solve their problem to their satisfaction and do so quickly."
What is the best way to resolve issues? Hospitality cites a study called “An Examination of Guest Complaints and Complaint Communication Channels: The Medium Does Matter!” out of Cornell University School of Hotel Management. It concludes that nearly fifty percent of unhappy guests want to talk to the boss. Free drinks and comp meals are nice, but what they really want is to let the boss know.
So how easy do you make it for your customers to let you know about the service? You can't always be in your business. Do you make it easy for them to contact you? You might be surprised what you learn and you will certainly have the opportunity to "save" good customers.
Plug from our sponsor: The Promoterz system is one easy way to make sure customers always have a direct link to you and you have a direct and convenient way to respond to them. The system invites every customer to provide feedback online and immediately notifies you and your managers of feedback as it is received.