Would You Believe Twenty-Six to One?

Customer Retention   •   February 9, 2023

I am posting an entire chapter from Roy H. Williams’ “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads” because it is simply too good to not share. Here we go:

An in-depth study conducted by Technical Assistance Research Programs of Washington, D.C., uncovered some things I think you should know:

  • On average, twenty-six unhappy customers won’t complain for every one who will.
  • Yet each of these twenty-seven unhappy customers will tell an average of sixteen other people about his bad experience with your firm.
  • This means every complaint you hear represents 432 negative impressions.

How many people should have to complain to you before you take action to permanently remedy a problem? By the time you hear a particular complaint three times, the problem has been mentioned to an average of 1,296 people.

  • It costs five times as much to attract a new customers as it costs to keep an old one.
  • Ninety-one percent of your unhappy customers will never buy from you again.
  • But if you make a focused effort to remedy your customers’ complaints, 82 percent of them will stay with you.

What should you do when people complain? Above all, don’t become defensive! You need to communicate with an attitude that says, “I want to understand the problem so I can fix it and make you happy.” Here are three questions to ask that will bail you out every time:

  1. “What has happened?” Ask this question calmly and with genuine concern.
  2. “What should have happened?” You must clearly understand the customer’s expectations before you can attempt to correct the problem.
  3. “What can I do to make it right?” This will calm even the angriest customer.

Now go find an unhappy customer and turn his day around.

Roy goes on to say…

“It may at first seem odd that an advertising consultant is offering advice on how to handle customer complaints, but it’s really not unusual at all. Our clients usually measure the effectiveness of our advertising by the growth of their business, and it takes only a small number of improperly handled complaints to undo a whole lot of good advertising. The first step in business growth is to keep the customers you’ve already got.”