Please Hold

March 28, 2005
Text Size:

Business Journal Sales Moves columnist JeffreyGitomer often harps on poor customer service in his columns. And when he comes to speak in West Michigan, as he will again in October, it's a sore subject that gets the audience involved, often telling their own personal horror stories.

How true are those stories? And why are participants so apt to tell them?

According to statistics released by Nunica-based Not So Basic Training, you may not want to know.

"It's amazing how many businesses, big and small, work hard to earn a person's business and quickly lose it due to poor customer service," said MitziTaylor, president of Not So Basic Training.

How much is poor customer service costing businesses?

Well, according to the corporate training firm, 90 percent of customers will avoid a company that has served them poorly. Only 4 percent of people with a complaint tell the company or organization of this dissatisfaction. More than 90 percent of those people who do not complain stop doing business with the company that provided the poor service.

But it's not just that individual instance of poor service that is so damaging, according to Taylor.

She said dissatisfied people tell 10 other people outside the organization about their bad experience, and not only do they tell others, but they often embellish the experience.

And here's the part that gets Gitomer's audiences going: Taylor says a customer will remember a bad service experience for 22 years, on average, and talk about it for at least 18 months after it happened.

No wonder Gitomer's presentations often sound more like counseling sessions.

But Taylor thinks she has a solution to the "please hold" problem.

On April 14, the firm is launching a six-month program called "Customer Service Boot Camp." That's right, six months. The camp involves telephone skills, strategies to excite staff and promote customer service, field trips to companies to assess areas of strength and weakness and two interactive four-hour workshops per month.

"The goal of Customer Service Boot Camp is to create and build a customer-focused culture for each participant," Taylor said.

Gitomer would be proud.

  • RandyThelen always turns lemons into lemonade.

The president of Lakeshore Advantage, an economic development organization serving lakeshore communities, has at least forged a working relationship with Pfizer, which last week announced a Holland Township plant closing that will cost the region hundreds of jobs.

"As difficult as this news is, we are very pleased that Pfizer has committed to working closely with our government and economic development leadership to search for another use for the Holland Township facility," he said.

Thelen said the plant is in a unique location in Holland and might be attractive to another pharmaceutical manufacturer.

"Events such as this are a sharp reminder of the need for our community to remain tireless in its efforts to retain jobs and attract new economic development. It is important to remember that we have enjoyed real successes in this work over the past year, as troubling as today's news may be."

And that lemonade apparently always is served in a glass that's half-full.

  • The Power of Blue. After the NCAA announced the pairings for the Midwest Men's Hockey Regional at Van Andel Arena, almost 1,000 tickets were sold on Sunday for the two-day event that happened on Friday and Saturday. The University of Michigan was seeded second.

"If we have 50 tickets sold on Sunday, that's a good day," said RichMacKeigan, general manager of SMG, which manages the arena.

The Power of Cheese, alas, isn't quite as strong. Wisconsin, seeded third in the tourney, was allotted 400 tickets, but only took 200.

  • Only three people are left at the work site of DeVos Place and their last day will be Thursday. Project Manager DaleSommers said there were only 17 items left to be checked on the project's to-do list.

"On March 31st the lights go out and we will kind of fade into the sunset," said Sommers.

The construction books should close by the end of April.

  • MarkLaCroix, the subject of today's Inside Track, said the plunge his company, Interface, took into sustainable business might surprise some.

"You know, it's ironic that a textile company would be on the leading edge of the sustainability movement. Historically, the industry has been responsible for so much of the degradation of the environment. If you think back to the industrial revolution, we were the first."

Now it's one of the first on the other side of the ledger.

  • The furor caused by HomerSimpson's line regarding a new RV on the March 20 TV show, "Boy, I'd really like to take that baby to Holland, Michigan, for the tulip festival," should be a boon for the lakeshore's annual gathering.

In fact, festival organizers have given Homer an open invitation to attend anytime he wants. Some say the beer-swilling, potbellied, mentally challenged cartoon icon might not be the right image the city is hoping to portray, but it actually wouldn't be a first.

Remember, former Gov. JohnEngler presided over several festival parades while wearing the snug traditional costume of a Klompen dancer.

  • We're not sure why we like this quote so much, but maybe it was the audience to which it was delivered. SamCummings of Second Story Properties recently spoke to a gathering of the networking group Grand Rapids Young Professionals. He was part of a panel that included Jack Buchanan, Ed De Vries and Guy Bazzani, and their subject was real estate and development in Grand Rapids.

This was Cummings' take on his firm's shift to property management and the commercial market: "Development is like hunting. You can get enough meat to last you through the winter months, but you have to kill something else when May comes along."

Wow, bow hunter and rocker TedNugent couldn't have said it better himself.    

Recent Articles by Business Journal Staff

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus