A Disappointing Dining Experience That Reminded Me of Our Industry

We are Afraid to Ask If Our Clients are Happy Because We are Afraid of the Complaint
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Recently, I went on a date night; you know those nights you escape from the darling children to partake in dinner with friends at a fancy restaurant? The establishment was on a decent roll as they took our coats as we walked in (because we live in Buffalo and were still wearing coats), took our drink orders, and made recommendations.

We, along with our friends, are foodies. We love a great food experience, but we are also kind. We tip well, we are courteous to the wait staff, and we goof around. The first course was some fancy eggs from some fancy birds; it was… fair. We would have given five stars for the description, but only two and a half on the actual appetizer.

Our second course was better, with a kicked up poutine and boar ribs. It was the third course, however, that missed the mark. Upon our arrival that night, the waitress described the special as halibut with brie-infused risotto. Halibut is one of my favorite meals, so of course, I began to anticipate it as our dining experience progressed.

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When it at last arrived, I was immediately overwhelmed by the scent of fish (not a good thing for fish to smell like fish). The only thing worse then the fragrance was the actual taste of the desired meal. I could not even consume it.

When the waitress came to retrieve our plates, I waited for her to comment on the fact I had not devoured my chosen feast, and I waited, and she took my near full plate and said nothing.

For her, it was a win. I did not complain. Her life that evening was more comfortable. For me, it was a mediocre (costly) experience that I will not repeat. As for the company, would it not have been advantageous for the worker to fix the immediate problem one way or another in hopes of not only my repeat business but the story I would tell when I left?

This is us in the AV industry. You know you are guilty of it. We are afraid to ask, afraid of the complaint, so we say nothing in hopes it will go away. Here are some statistics from ThinkSales online sites that may make you think again:

• 68% of customer defection takes place because customers feel poorly treated

• 95% of people who have a bad experience do not complain (go ahead and read that line again)

• 13% tell up to 20 other people, while a satisfied customer tells only five other people

• It can cost five times more to buy new customers than retain existing ones

• 1% cut in customer service problems could generate an extra R200 million in profits for a medium-sized company over five years.

For us at SAV, we ask the client if they are happy and understand their system while we are on site, and if so, have them sign a sheet that says so. Then we follow up in 24-48 hours to and ask them again if they understand their system, were the installers clean and neat, and ask the client to grade us from one through five. Anyone that does not rate us a five is asked why, and this story is brought up at our weekly meeting.

Well, this is our practice, but we are not perfect either. We too have our share of clients that cannot be tamed, but that’s not today’s topic. Today I speak for those not quite satisfied, who just want to be asked if everything is to their satisfaction.

Do you?

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