Touch Points and How to Handle Negative Customer Experiences

Posted on June 17, 2011

Touch Points… heard of them?  Are you aware of them?  Do you practice them, train your staff on them, and stay consistent with them?

A “Touch Point” is any form of contact that your customers have with you.  It can be the first time they come into your store, the first time they hear your ad, the first time they visit your website, the first time they get service from you, the list goes on… and they extend infinitely into the beyond — meaning touch points happen all the time, which is why they are so critical to master and maintain.  When a customer “touches” you… how do they feel?  What impression are you leaving with them?  Is is positive, or negative.

Obviously you want to maintain positive “touch points” with your customers, as you always have more tomorrow customers than today ones.  But touch points are not easy to control.  There are always variables that you have no control over.  Sure, as a business owner you strive to make sure that every customer experience with you and your business is pleasurable, but what happens when a touch point takes a nose dive?  A “soured” customer experience can quickly spiral out of control unless you have a built in defense policy to quickly rectify the situation.  And there lies the key phrase… quickly rectify the situation.

The great sales trainer Jeff Gitomer (read his books) always says that the key to overcoming a negative experience with you or your company is to first and foremost, quickly fix the problem, but then to “one-up” the situation.  Fix the problem and then add something extra… add an extra WOW factor.  Do something unexpected, do something memorable, regain control of the situation.  For example, if you are an automotive repair shop and you have a customer who has a problem with their work, fix the problem quick — make it right, and then add something extra… depending how severe the damage and the attitude of the customer, maybe a free oil change on their next visit, a car wash, a tire rotation.  You get the idea.

Remember, the most negative of all advertising is bad “word of mouth”.  Bad word of mouth spreads like a wildfire in California.  Train your employees to properly handle negative experiences, empower them to make things right when a bad touch point happens.  Don’t put off the problem, handle the problem.  Handled correctly, a bad touch point turns into positive word of mouth advertising.  And while positive word of mouth doesn’t spread as fast as negative word of mouth, it spreads.  Know how to handle negative customer experiences and you’ll be rewarded in repeat business.

Mark Leishear