The Second Way Complaining Customers Help Businesses Stay Ahead

By Brett Fox at

Shit! The check engine light just came on my car. And that means I’m going to have to drop a thousand bucks to get it fixed.

“Well, at least it isn’t blinking red,” I thought. A blinking red light is the kiss of death: A serious engine problem. I’ve been there before, and I don’t want to go there again.

I called Beto and I scheduled an appointment to bring the car in. Beto told me the earliest they could have a courtesy car for me to borrow was in two weeks.

“Am I going to be okay driving the car for the next two weeks?” I asked.

“As long as the light isn’t blinking red, you should be fine. The orange light (the color mine was) means there is likely an emissions problem.

“One suggestion I have is open and then re-tighten your gas cap. Sometimes that can be the culprit. It may take a few days for the light to reset itself.”

I tried Beto’s suggestion. Three days later I put the key in the ignition and turned the engine on. The car turned on with a throaty roar (I love that throaty roar) and the check engine light stayed off.

Beto was right!

And that’s why I keep getting my car serviced at this dealer location. There are closer mechanics and dealerships than this one, but there’s only one Beto.

The Unbelievable Power Of Great Customer Support

I know Beto always puts my best interest first. He is sincere, honest, and he goes out of his way for Blossom and I. You can’t ask for anything more than that.

I know we could save money by going to a non-dealer mechanic to service our cars, but we don’t because we trust Beto. That’s the INITIAL VALUE of great customer support: you get to keep your customers.

But There’s More…

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Treat your customers well and they will pay more for product/service/whatever you are selling.

Guess what customers do when they like the customer support?

They buy more from you! In our case, we will likely buy our next car from the dealership Beto represents. (See point #3 just ahead.)

The Amazing Power Of Happy Customers:

  1. Loyal customers are worth up to ten times their first purchase. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs
  2. It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
  3. In 2011, 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. Source: AMEX
  4. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Source: McKinsey
  5. 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again. Source: Lee Resources
  6. In 2011, 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. Source: Harris Interactive
  7. Top two reasons for customer loss: (Source: Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive)
    1. Customers feel poorly treated
    2. Failure to solve a problem in a timely manner
  1. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Source: McKinsey

So what you should, the CEO, do?

80% (80%!!!) of Americans agree that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses according to an American Express survey. The answer is obvious:

Make customer support, or in the words of Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh, “delivering happiness” the top priority of your company.

Here are some simple tips how to make the customer experience fantastic:

  1. Let your company (and your customer service team) have a personality.
  2. Answer the f***ing phone!
  3. Have each of your managers spend time answering customer support calls. Oh, and one more thing…
  4. You, the CEO, should answer customer support calls too!

Have you seen the movie, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway? I love the opening scene where Hathaway’s character, Jules, is answering customer support calls. And Jules is giving away the store to make the customer happy.

You want your support people acting like Anne Hathaway did!

No, I’m not saying they should be giving things away without thinking. I am saying that making the customer happy is the first (and only) priority.


What about unreasonable customers? What do we do then?

There’s a fine line between being unreasonable and being correctly unhappy and voicing your opinion. Remember, most customers don’t ever tell you there’s a problem, instead…

They buy from your competitors.

So, think of complaining customers as a gift because if you listen, really listen, you’ll learn a ton. It’s like the late, great Zig Ziglar said:

“Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”

And that’s the second reason why you, the CEO, should answer customer support calls.

What’s the first reason? You’ll develop tremendous empathy for your customers and your customer support team.

Last Year I Complained To Beto.

I brought my car in for routine service last year. I noticed that the paint was peeling on the back of the car when I got home after picking up the car and driving home.

I immediately called Beto and I told him what happened. I couldn’t prove it happened at the dealer, but there was no other likely place.

Beto said that he would talk to the service manager and let me know what they would do. Later that day, they agreed to repaint the affected area of the car free of charge.

I don’t know what it cost them to fix the damage, but it probably was around $500 to $1,000. I do know it was a great investment because we will likely buy our next car from them.

That’s the power of great customer support. You keep your customers coming back to you again and again.

Like what you read? Click here for more great advice for Startup CEOs.

Picture: Depositphotos