If You Mess Up Customer Service, Then Fix It, I'll Come Back 2.5 Times More Loyal

There’s a curious trend in some of the “above and beyond” emails we’ve received.

People seem ecstatic when something goes wrong, and the company fixes it, even if there’s no way it should’ve happened in the first place.

We recently read somewhere about how some survey found that customers who have a bad experience but then get their problem solved come back 2.5 times more loyal than customers who never had anything go wrong. Of course, now we can’t find it. Can you, research monkeys? (That number might be wrong, too, but it’s what stuck in our head). — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: Getty Images)

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  1. Crazytree says:

    “The benefits are immediate. Companies that improve their customer service experiences find consumers become immediately loyal — they are 2.5 times more likely to buy again from the same company. In fact, consumers who have a problem and enjoy a positive customer service experience are actually more loyal than customers who buy a product and never have to call the firm looking for help.”

    http://redtape.msnbc.com/2007/05/ever_wonder_why.html

  2. bluwapadoo says:

    The real research miracle is to figure out where the guy who wrote THAT blog got the statistic.

  3. not_seth_brundle says:

    It kind of makes sense, because if you buy a product from company X and there’s a problem and they solve it, you now have data about company X’s customer service. Down the line, you need to buy a product and you’re deciding between company X and company Y. You have no information about Y’s customer service, so you go with X.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    @Crazytree: Oh right, and we even posted about that. Dur.

  5. Crazytree says:

    @bluwapadoo:

    Well it’s in the middle of a paragraph exclusively dealing with Brain Sprague of Accenture’s interpretation of his company’s surveys.

    It’s not a huge logical leap to assume that the figure is part of the Accenture survey they’re discussing ad naseum in this article.

  6. Crazytree says:
  7. bedofnails says:

    That’s a nice dress.

  8. bbbici says:

    what’s that phrase about the devil you know? but yeah, the photo implies that just like your romantic relationships, resolved arguments just make you closer.

  9. FreakyStyley says:

    Things go wrong. It’s unavoidable. Companies that take steps to fix those things should keep your business.

  10. roothorick says:

    That sets a pretty frightening precedent. Given, I’m no business major, but it sounds to me, that if your business model depends on retaining customers as much as possible, you should DELIBERATELY cause each of your customers some kind of problem and then go out of your way to fix it, as opposed to making their experience trouble-free in the first place. Disgusting, but that’s capitalism, I guess.

  11. camas22 says:

    i always DELIBERATELY cause my girlfriend some kind of problem, but she is never 2.5X as happy with me after i fix it.

  12. atbradley says:

    @roothorick: I’ve actually seen this suggested, although this was years ago and I don’t remember the details. The idea was that hotels should cause minor, easily-fixed problems for some of their guests in order to encourage loyalty.

    The problem I see with this is, what about the people who don’t complain? Not everyone will, and the people who don’t aren’t going to be more loyal, they’re just going to silently fume about your company until they get angry enough to complain to their friends about your incompetence.

  13. BStu says:

    Makes sense. I think most people are understanding that service won’t always be perfect. We’re inclined to be forgiving, I’d say. The company that responds to a problem thoroughly and promptly has proven to us that they take service seriously and will act decisively to address a problem. A company we haven’t had a problem with hasn’t had the opportunity to prove that. It may seem counterintuative, but it is genuinely something we know about that company. It’d only be a fault if we did expect 100% great service all the time. If you don’t, then knowing that a company will make things right is a valuable piece of evidence.

  14. dohtem says:

    Man, those are some great legs.

  15. flashing12 says:

    My company just created a “Customer Concierge” position for just this purpose…now, we are a wholesale distribution for CE products, and don’t deal with the public, but B2B customer service and customer loyalty is as important as any other business model!

  16. minneapolisite says:

    The photo is so appropriate, because for most women this is also true of their relationships. If a guy is just a good guy 100% of the time, he’s boring. If he screws up and then apologizes with poetry and flowers, he’s an amazing and sensitive man.

  17. royal72 says:

    so this like makeup sex for consumerists then?

  18. mantari says:

    She seems a bit too clingy.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Looks pretty cute to me. I’d…

    Wait.

    What was the article about again?

  20. bluwapadoo says:

    @Crazytree:

    First of all, the mention of the study is not in the paragraph at all, but in the same section of the article. Could you infer that it is from the study? Yes. But that’s only an inference.

    It’s bad journalism, which is why it’s important to to point out it is only from a blog.

    Anyway, this is how it is done:
    http://www.crn.com/it-channel/199700994

    “According to the study, an extremely high customer service rating can result in a 300 percent increase in customer loyalty and a 2.5 times higher repurchase rate. Companies that provide less than extremely high service stand to lose half of their customers to competitors, found the survey.”

    1200 customers were interviewed and only one’s of tech companies, fwiw.

  21. AcidReign says:

    …..I like it best when stuff doesn’t go wrong at all. Hat’s off to Lenovo. Killer laptop we bought a while back. For those who hate Windows, the Thinkpad will run Linux just fine, with native drivers for everything.

  22. bluwapadoo says:

    Whoa, F this BS! Read the study: http://www.accenture.com/NR/rdonlyres/EA2C2608-51AB-4930-8

    This does NOT say that if you have a good experience you will “2.5 times more loyal than customers who never had anything go wrong.”

    What it DOES say is that if you have an extremely high satisfaction experience with your complaint than you are 2.5 time more loyal THAN IF YOU ONLY HAD AN AVERAGE satisfaction experience.

    This study does NOT say that if something goes wrong with the product and you have really good customer service that you are 2.5 more loyal to a company than if nothing ever happened to you in the first place. Even if you think that “makes sense” that is not what this study proves.

    From the study: “Those that have an extremely high satisfaction experience are nearly 2.5 times more likely to repurchase from that same company than if they had an average satisfaction experience.”

    Even the chart shows that over 70% (and less than 80%) of people who had “extremely high” customer satisfaction would ever buy from the provider again.

    The quote and the chart are on page 3.

  23. mac-phisto says:

    i would agree with that statement.

    that said, it amazes me every day that a consulting firm makes millions of dollars putting obvious results into pretty graphs, numbers & percentages. you know what? you can’t quantify everything & even if you could, is the cost of quantifying worth the result?

    people like their expectations met. absent of that, they are expecting to be treated special when things fall thru. if you can’t figure that out without surveys and trends analyses, maybe daddy’s money wasn’t so wisely spent on a stanford mba.

    mark my words, bobbleheads are running corporate america.

  24. Crazytree says:

    @bluwapadoo:

    I made an inference that was not only common-sense, but logically followed the structure of the article and was 100% correct.

    your semantic fish flopping does not negate this point, nor does it negate your earlier statement: “The real research miracle is to figure out where the guy who wrote THAT blog got the statistic.”

    thanks for the compliment! :D

  25. revmatty says:

    I’m totally on board with that thinking. Mistakes happen. I expect things will go wrong at some point in my relationship with a business. It might be their fault, it might be my fault, it might be nobody’s fault. Hey, I’ve got a job. And sometimes I screw up. And when I do I make it right. I don’t expect to get fired for making a mistake (unless it’s a real doozy), and I don’t stop doing business with a company because they made a mistake. If they make it right.

    The true character of a company comes out in how they handle problems. And that’s why I’m more loyal to a company after there’s been a problem that’s been handled well. Now I’ve had plenty of experiences where problems were handled poorly, and I’ve made clear to management that I wouldn’t be doing business with them again.

    It’s amazing how often they refused to hear my explanation that it was because they handled the problem poorly, not because the problem happened. I’ve had more problems in that regard with small local businesses.

  26. I’d hit it.

  27. Ben Popken says:

    Actually, in addition to not recalling the survey, and forgetting that we already linked to it earlier this week, we miscombined two separate pieces of information from The Red Tape Chronicles writeup,

    1. “Companies that improve their customer service experiences find consumers become immediately loyal — they are 2.5 times more likely to buy again from the same company.”

    and

    2. “[C]onsumers who have a problem and enjoy a positive customer service experience are actually more loyal than customers who buy a product and never have to call the firm looking for help.”

    So while it was found that loyalty increased after problem-fixing increased, it’s not true that it increased by a factor of 2.5.

    Talk about a brain hiccup. Thanks to bluwapadoo for the spot.

  28. rawsteak says:

    I think it’s because (most) people are taught to say “I’m sorry” and to make up for their errors, but no one in power actually does that.

    Not to get political, but President Clinton lied about the sex scandal, then went on television and apologized for it and tried to make up for it. Now, everyone loves Bill Clinton.

    Nixon never apologized for Watergate, and Bush hasn’t apologized for Iraq, and not many people like Bush or Nixon. But if Bush did apologize AND tried to make up for it somehow, I think a lot of people might give him another chance.

  29. Pormethean says:

    This seems obvious to me. Here’s why:
    1. I am loyal to companies that have good customer service.
    2. Customer service interactions occur, by their nature, mostly when there is a problem of some sort.
    3. Given 1 & 2 above, I an only become loyal for good customer service once there is a problem, because it is the problem that allows me to evaluate the quality of the service.

  30. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    I didn’t even read past the picture, what are we talking about here?