October 31, 2010 § 2 Comments
You’ve all probably heard of the common idea that a bad customer experience sticks out far more than good one. Well, it’s true, and I’m going to prove it to you right here and now.
A few minutes ago I sent out two fairly irate tweets directed towards @LOVEFiLM on Twitter. I was pissed off. My DVD rental copy of Redbelt had gotten stuck around two-third’s of the way through, rendering an entire scene in the movie unplayable. Sure, to some people it might not be a big deal to miss a scene or two, but to me it’s unacceptable. That one scene could have been key to the motivations of a central character or been the focus of a major plot point. In my mind, it’s ruinous to the whole experience of watching a film.
So, anyway, I started tweeting and got to thinking about just how many unplayable DVDs I’d sent back to LOVEFiLM over the years I’d been with them for. Turns out, they make this rather easy. They archive your history of rentals, and they send out an e-mail every time you report a faulty disc. Now, over time, I’d got to feeling that I must be receiving faulty discs about, oh, a quarter of the time; although, my point is that it had felt like this was happening more and more – like, way too often for comfort.
What did I actually find when I looked through my history and bank of e-mails, though?
Well, first off, I found out that I’ve been a subscriber since around late July 2008.
From that time I have received 211 discs through from LOVEFiLM, which includes mostly film DVDs but also Xbox 360 DVDs, and doesn’t include replacement discs.
I have reported only 11 cases of a DVD being faulty or unplayable.
While I’m no fancy mathematician, even I can work out that that’s a fault rate of around 5% over two years and roughly three months.
While it has to be said that that 5% doesn’t include the times I didn’t bother to report a faulty disc for whatever reason, that statistic is actually much lower than what I had expected it to be. I had the firm belief in my head, beyond almost all doubt, that it would be something closer to at least 25% – but no, I had only been receiving faulty discs close to, and probably just over, one-twentieth of the time. Yet, I was sure – so sure – that it was higher. And not only that, I was very ready and willing to spread that false belief all over the Internet. Inevitably, in my agitation, that’s exactly what I started to do.
Was LOVEFiLM listening to what was being said about them? No, apparently not, because I still haven’t heard from them. Perhaps I wouldn’t have even bothered writing this if they had. They could have apologised, offered me some compensation for the inconvenience, while also providing statistics demonstrating the low frequency of faulty disc reports. That would have been a great bit of customer service, and I may even have ended up relaying that information across to my friends and followers. They could have turned a negative customer experience into a positive one. Did they do that? No, they didn’t.
I guess this is the lesson to learn for businesses, one which they probably all know but that nonetheless bears repeating: your customer is irrational, impatient, quick to anger and, potentially, a risk to your reputation in this ever connected, digital world. That is not to say be afraid of your customer, but at the very least they need to be placated, and they need to feel heard when they’re not happy. When you’re offering a service, your perceived reputation is the difference between adoption and dismissal, between advocating and discouraging. Get your customers onside, keep them happy, and get them working for you, not against you.
(On a side note: from the fifty-five minutes I saw of Redbelt, I think it’s really good. Chiwetel is a criminally under appreciated actor, again delivering a charismatic, subtle performance. And if you’re one of those guys who really digs the nobility of a warrior/samurai code, this is absolutely going to rock your boat.)