Improving Customer Service

Issue # 7 of 70 




John T. Self, Ph.D.
By: Dr. John T. Self


Customer Service Facts and Figures


Customer Service is not just warm and fuzzies. Striving for a phenomenal reputation in your market makes good economic sense. Consider these facts:
  • It can cost up to five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.

  • The average business never hears from 96% of its unhappy customers.

  • For every complaint received, the average company in fact has 26 customers with problems, 6 of which are serious in nature.

  • Surprisingly, of the people who have problems, complainers are more likely than non-complainers to do business again with a company that upset them, even if the problem isn't satisfactorily resolved.

  • Of customers who register a complaint, between 54% and 70% will do business again with the organization if their complaint is resolved. That figure goes up to an impressive 95% if the customer feels that the complaint was resolved quickly.

  • The average customer who has a problem with an organization tells 9 or 10 people about it. Thirteen percent of the people who have a problem with an organization recount the incident to more than 20 people.

  • Customers who have complained to an organization and had their complaints satisfactorily resolved tell an average of 5 people about the treatment they receive.

To balance the hard facts and figures, I would like to close this week's column with a poem about customer service. The poem serves to illustrate many of the facts above and in many ways, is much stronger and harder than even the cold, hard facts. If anyone knows the name of the author please let me know and I will gladly give the author credit.


Remember Me?
Author Unknown

I'm the person who asks: "How long is the wait?" You tell me ten minutes...but it gets very late

I'm the person who sees:
The whole staff loiters
While my waitress does everything
But take my order.

I'm the person who says:
"That's not what I ordered...but it's O.K.
I'll eat it anyway."

I'm the person who calls:
To see if my lost item was found
And all I get is a run-around.

I'm the person who leaves:
With a slight frown
Cause the hostess is no where to be found.

I'm the person who should:
Write a negative letter
But feel it wouldn't make anything better.

Yes, you might say that I'm a good guy...
That I understand that you kind of try.
But, please read on and you will see...
That there's another side of me.

I'm the person who
Never comes back
Because of something you tend to lack.

It amuses me to see you spending
Thousands of dollars on ads never ending
In an effort to get me back into your place
When you hardly even remember my face.

In order to keep me as a guest
I have but one simple little request...
When I am here all you have to do
Is give me the service I'm entitled to.

John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academia, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including Chili's and Steak and Ale, and as vice president of a regional restaurant chain overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants, including a comedy club.
Dr. Self has also been involved in the development of international hospitality programs. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.


Improving Customer Service #7 of 70: View all in the Table of Contents

For more customer service articles, visit the Customer Service series on the new Sideroad: Practical Advice Straight from The Experts.

Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.