Customer Retention, or BJs Chickens Have Flown The Coop!
The Sky is Falling
Every week, my husband buys me a chicken. A succulent, rotisserie-grilled chicken from BJs Wholesale Club. I love that chicken. I am a fan of that chicken, even a super fan. You could even consider me a brand ambassador. I have told people in the checkout line, people at the grilling station how great this chicken is… or should I say was.
The first time I got a bad chicken was several months ago. It was raw on the bottom. I didn’t complain. I am not really a complainer. I just thought it was an off day. The second time, I blamed the change in packaging, but again didn’t complain. But last week, in addition to parts of it being raw, there were many quills left in the chicken. I don’t like to be reminded that my chicken was once a bird.
So I checked on the web for someone to complain to and sent an e-mail message. A private e-mail message.
And heard nothing.
Nothing at all.
I waited five days and then decided to send a public tweet.
And again heard nothing.
How did this make me feel? It was funny. It was only a chicken. The chicken didn’t cost much. But I can’t deny how I felt. Unloved, unappreciated, unimportant.
I wasn’t looking for a lot. I didn’t need a free chicken. I didn’t expect my money back, or a credit or coupon for a future chicken. I realized I just wanted to feel heard, to feel listened too. And I didn’t.
So What Are The Marketing Lessons Here?
When people are pleased, they share. They share with the person next to them at the counter, they share with the person behind them at the checkout. Sometimes they share with friends. But that is usually all. They don’t tweet or blog about their great chicken. But when people feel disrespected or patronized, they share—with everyone they can. And where that used to be within their small community, now they can share on social media. And that can be a huge number of people.
Additionally, disappointment with one product can bleed over to many others. The chicken costs less than five dollars. (It really was a bargain.) But my husband always bought many more items every time he went to BJs. And he went once a week to make sure I had my chicken. So, if we don’t buy the chicken, will we buy the rest of the stuff? I don’t know. But maybe not. So good customer service is important regardless of the value of the product. The cost of the chicken isn’t the point. The lost value of the customer is. I was a real “brand ambassador” And now I am not.
The third point is that every company needs a process. When customers complain, someone needs to answer. They don’t always need to agree with the customer or replace the product. They do need to be trained to listen, to empathize, to show they care. In today’s world, the customer has many outlets to complain, whether or not their complaint is legitimate. Businesses have to be on top of this. We saw this recently when Progressive Insurance Company was the subject of a Twitter and Facebook rant. They waited too long to respond and when they did, they seemed uninvolved and patronizing. BJs Wholesale Club and Progressive Insurance Company are big companies and when you are big, mistakes can be big. But even when you are smaller, it is important to respond to customers, to keep abreast of reviews on sites like Citysearch, Yelp and Google. You do not want to be the last to know when customers are unhappy. Whether it is a rubber chicken or something more serious, today’s world demands responses…quickly.
So, where do you buy your rotisserie chickens? I am looking for someplace new. Please share your comments below:
Barbara Fowler is Northeast Managing Partner at Chief Outsiders.
Connect on twitter at @barbfow50 and @chiefoutsiders
Chief Outsiders' blog is written by top CMOs and executive guests for CEOs looking for business growth strategies, current thinking on effective leadership skills, and ideas and insights from real-world marketing strategy implementation.