What's the fastest way to get rid of a customer? Without saying a word?
You got it. The answer is not saying a word. Being unresponsive. Showing that you really don't care what their experience was, even if they go to the trouble of pointing out - politely - that there might be a problem with your quality or service.
Two big names in women's apparel have recently provided me with an up close and personal example. Delta Burke - the clothing line that bears her name - has some nice designs. A few months ago I started swimming in the local indoor therapy pool (great for creaky knees!), and I bought a Delta Burke bathing suit at Lord & Taylor. Between the two I expect good quality and excellent service.
Right. My dismay quickly turned to ire when, after barely a dozen wearings, the suit began to disintegrate. The fabric lost all its oomph. Tiny gray ends of broken elastic fibers covered the surface. When wet, the skirt hung below my knees! Now my knees are not a great sight, but I don't want to have to fight with fabric when I'm swimming.
Yes, I rinsed the suit carefully and repeatedly after each wearing. The pool is state of the art and uses salts and very little - if any - chlorine. Clearly, there was a quality problem with the fabric.
So I wrote to Delta Burke Fashions describing the problem and my suggestion that they have a problem with quality, and I sent a copy to the Women's Buyer at Lord & Taylor at their headquarters store. (I would have written to a specific person, but the very helpful department manager at the local L&T couldn't give me a name.)
The result? Resounding silence.
My response? Two new swimsuits purchased - neither of them a Delta Burke, neither of them from Lord & Taylor. And one blog article.
In a dentist's office once I saw a sign: Ignore your teeth and they'll go away. The same goes for customers. The fact that I won't buy anything else from Delta Burke or L&T probably won't even register on their radar. Or maybe it will.
Addendum: Thanks to Alex for reminding me of the Demotivators to be found at Despair.com. Herewith a pertinent example: http://despair.com/disservice.html