Stop Disappointing Customers


For the past several weeks I’ve been immersed in discussions with retailers about customer disappointment. Imagine being a retailer and knowing that many of your customers are leaving your store disappointed because you didn’t have something specifically came into the store to buy. It’s a terrible place to be in, but for many reasons it happens every day. And, as a general rule of thumb, those customers don’t return after being let down.

Let me illustrate a couple of examples:

We know from research that nearly ½ of customers who go into a store with the intent of buying a Bible leave the store without making the purchase. Why? For many reasons – customer confusion and lack of product selection being two common.

The other day I sat next to an extremely disappointed airline passenger. He had printed out his boarding pass in advance. He received a seat assignment in an exit row (He was a Platinum-level Northwest airlines passenger), but was turned away at the gate due to some computer glitch. He not only lost his exit row, he got the last seat on the plane through no fault of his own. He was frustrated, angry and disappointed.

With all the competition retailers and businesses have today it’s hard enough to attract and keep loyal customers. When a retailer (or an airline) disappoints a customer, it can have drastic consequences.

Be a shopper for a moment. Saturday is the only day you have to buy Aunt Mary that gift for her birthday. You know what you want and you go to a store you expect will have it. When you get there you are so confused you cannot find what you want – you’re disappointed. You either compromise and get something she may or may not like, or you leave upset.

No business can afford disappointed customers. You need to:

1. Make sure your shelves have the right inventory
2. Develop a way to make shopping easy and customer focused
3. Hire people who engage and listen to the shopper
4. Take regular customer surveys – ask customers as they leave your store if they found what they needed and take action to solve any problems for them.

Make it your goal to stop customers from being disappointed with your store (or your airline) and chances are you’ll see quick and better results. You will also see shoppers returning to your store, which is always a good thing.


3 Responses to “Stop Disappointing Customers”

  1. Dan Ryan says:

    Good thoughts! Keep them coming.

  2. Dan Ryan says:

    Good thoughts-keep them coming!

  3. Scott Winter says:

    Frontliner education and empowerment is essential to this principle. Imagine if the counter agent in your airline scenerio had the knowledge and the authority to rectify the situation immediately. At that point, you pretty much guarantee customer loyalty.
    I understand you can’t fix every situation, but don’t handcuff the people who stand in front of the customer and have to make that decision.

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