Customers are the lifeblood of organizations of any kind and any size. Certainly, organizations and their leaders know this, yet many often fail to ensure a positive experience. Worse, even more organizations fail to respond appropriately, and in a manner that will satisfy — or even delight — customers when there has been a service breakdown.
The power of appeasing customers
A recent survey on how customer call centers can turn unhappy customers into happy customers provides support for the importance of automating the resolution of customer conflicts to shorten the timeframes for addressing customer concerns and increasing the odds that appeased customers become loyal brand ambassadors.
Other research also supports the big benefit of taking the right actions to turn a bad situation into a positive one. For example, according to Bain, a customer experience promoter (someone who has had a positive experience, even after experiencing a service breakdown) has a lifetime value of 600-1400% more than a detractor (someone who has not been satisfied).
Customers who are not appeased, though, are likely to make a bad situation worse. Those dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their poor experiences with others than satisfied customers are likely to share theirs.
Clearly, customer satisfaction is important — Gartner predicted back in 2014 that 89% of companies will be competing mainly on customer experience. Many businesses have broadly learned this the hard way during the pandemic when services were most challenging to deliver, and in some cases almost impossible to ensure.
Customers are also likely to leave. When asked, "Have you stopped doing business with a company because they made an error with your order or service?" 78% responded with a "yes."
Today's consumers have choices.
During the pandemic call centers were especially challenged to keep up with a sudden increase in call volume. The most successful organizations have long acknowledged that it's far less costly to retain existing customers than it is to close on new ones. These organizations recognize the power of appeasement.
The use of coupons and gift cards can go a long way toward maintaining, even boosting, customer satisfaction. Our research yielded insights from 1,225 consumers on just how powerful this sort of appeasement can be. But not all appeasement efforts pack the same punch.
Consumers want something more than problem or issue resolution
For instance, here's a startling statistic: 98% of our respondents said "yes" to this question: "When a company makes an error with your order or your experience, if they fix the error and also give you a discount coupon or gift card, would that satisfy you and help to keep your business?"
That's a statistic you can't afford to ignore, but also one that should come as no surprise.
What may come as more of a surprise, though, is how rapidly that yes response declines when a coupon or gift card is not part of the appeasement process.
Thirty-seven percent of consumers responded "no" to this question: "If a company makes an error with your order or service, if they fix the error but do not give you a discount coupon/gift card, would that satisfy you and help to keep your business?
Even customers who stopped doing business with a company because of a bad experience could be convinced to return, according to our survey.
An error with an order can be enough to get 78% of consumers to stop doing business with you — but 81% say they would consider staying with the company in the future if a high-value coupon or gift card were given out.
Importantly, though, appeasement isn't just about receiving a coupon or gift card at some point in time. Timing matters. The more quickly you can act to appease customers who have had a bad experience, the more likely you are to retain them. And the better the odds they will not write negative reviews, instead becoming brand advocates spreading positive word-of-mouth.
When asked whether they preferred receiving a coupon or gift card immediately via email, text message or online chat, instead of waiting for a later date, 86% said "Yes."
The time to satisfy a dissatisfied customer is in the moment. This not only helps to de-escalate difficult situations but also shows your customers that you value their business and that you're willing to take immediate steps to keep it.
For call centers and staff, an automated process for issuing and tracking appeasements can reduce delays and administrative steps while ensuring accountability.
In an environment where consumers have more choices and options than ever before, you can't afford to overlook the power of appeasement. Going beyond a simple apology to quickly offering a reward will help to ensure their continued support and loyalty.