Managing customers – post purchase

The AIDA process for planning marketing is a useful aid, but it has one major failing: it stops after stimulating action – what about aspects of post-purchase behaviour? Customer relationship management (CRM)? Customer lifetime value (CLV)? Managing complaints? Post-sale service and support? And in automotive markets: aftersales management?

Well, that’s why modern techniques of caring for customers were invented.

Shortly after Christmas I complained about a book written by a German publisher in English. It had some awful translations in it, including words I’d never heard in certain contexts.

I was amazed by the publisher’s response which, quite simply, fulfilled practically all of the key criteria of professional complaint management:

1) Respond quickly (in their instance, in less than 12 hours!). Especially important in the days of the www. And every day the dissatisfied customer is left to simmer, the more angry they may become!
2) Apologise, and point out that you share the customer’s concern
3) Take corrective action (or explain why this is not necessary). In this case the publisher had stopped printing the book because of the poor quality.
4) Say thank you! (After all, this customer has given you free feedback that is only heard otherwise in expensive market research) This was the only point the publisher missed out, although between the lines, their polite manner and genuine concern was tantamout to saying thank you.
5) Reward the customer for their efforts (unless they’re one of those professional complainers obviously fishing for free gifts). The publisher even offered a free book – one of their best sellers. Potentially I will recommend this to others, and come back to them as a publisher.

Market research indicates that a dissatisfied customer tells, on average, seven people about a bad experience. Yet only one in twenty bothers to tell the company what’s happened! This is why all complaints must be taken seriously – they may just be the tip of the iceberg. And who knows how many other disgruntled customers might be out there…

So I think the publisher that so professionally dealt with my concern deserves full praise for demonstrating how professional complaint management should work:

moses. Verlag, from Kempen. Best practice!

Alex Woodruff

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