In last week’s post I talked about the importance of a start up knowing the percentage of customers that would recommend their product or their company. There’s actually a name for this metric. It’s called the Net Promoter Score or NPS. Here’s an article that provides a way to calculate your NPS.  In order to have a high NPS, you need more than the right product. You need the right customer experience.

I’m always a little shocked by companies that see unhappy customers and fail to take immediate action. My wife recently took her car into the local dealership for routine service.  Between a post-doctoral fellowship, an active private practice, and several non-profit board seats, she’s very busy. So she wanted to know how long the service would take. The answer was, “No more than an hour.” After a two and a half hour wait for her service to  be completed, she was obviously steaming. She complained to the service manager, who apologized and then sent her on her way.

When the post-service customer satisfaction survey call came, she gave candid answers. She was not satisfied. Less than 24 hours later, she received a call from the service manager apologizing profusely, telling her to call him directly, the next time she had her car serviced. He then offered her a complimentary car detailing service along with a polite recommendation that she wait until the winter season was done, in order to get the maximum benefit from the detailing. The coupon for the free detailing arrived the next day in the mail. My wife was somewhat calmed by the gesture, but still doesn’t mind repeating the story of the dealership’s poor service.

Now, imagine how different her reaction might have been, had the service manager, to whom she expressed her dissatisfaction before she left the dealership, had then offered her a discount, or a free detailing service. Her anger would probably have been assuaged immediately. What if it didn’t require the service manager’s involvement at all, but the clerk at the service desk had been empowered and taken the initiative to make things right? What if the dealership’s response had been as it was for me at a local restaurant, when the waitress offered my meal for free, because I had to wait too long to be served. Rather than a detractor, I became a promoter, for her willingness to proactively do the right thing.