Here’s a scary statistic for every business owner: “The average organization loses 15 percent to 35 percent of its customers each year, primarily due to poor service.”

Here’s a scary statistic for every business owner: “The average organization loses 15 percent to 35 percent of its customers each year, primarily due to poor service.”

That’s a statistic from Ken Blanchard’s Web site. He’s the author of the bookRaving Fans, and he presents an interesting idea for any company concerned about keeping those customers they might otherwise lose each year. Do you know if your company is in danger of losing a third of your customers this year? There’s only one way to find out before it’s too late. Ask them.

As Blanchard points out in the book, there are raving happy fans and there are those that are raving mad. Naturally, you want to shoot for the raving happy fans, but if you fall short of that, you want the raving mad customer.

Sounds crazy to say, doesn’t it? But think about it this way. If they’re mad enough to tell you about it, then you have an opportunity to fix it.

It’s the silent customers in the middle of the spectrum that are the most dangerous. They are the ones who you don’t know about. They are the ones that could be mad enough to tell their friends but not mad enough to tell you. That’s dangerous.

Just think about how dangerous that silence can be, and you’ll quickly see where that 15 percent to 35 percent of lost customers come from.

Think about your last visit to a restaurant. When you left, the manager may have asked you how your meal was, and you probably replied, “Great,” as a reflex. But in reality, maybe your steak was cold, the service was poor, and the restaurant was freezing. Needless to say, if this was the case, you know you’re not coming back, but the restaurant thinks you’ll be coming back. They’ve lost you, and they don’t even know it. It’s the silence that kills.

Today, we expect mediocre service. The expectations of people from companies, especially contractors, are lower today. As a result, customers reward those companies that provide them with outstanding service. If you can offer clients the type of service that connects with them, they’ll become raving fans.

Getting to the Truth

So where do your clients fall in that spectrum? Raving or silent? It’s better to know so you can either celebrate or get to work on fixing the problems.

How do you find out if your fans are raving? Here are a few ideas:
  • Comment cards. Every business on the planet uses comment cards, but they are a simple way to get feed-back from your clients. However, do you do anything to entice your clients to fill them out, and do you call them afterward to thank them for filling out the cards? Even happy clients might need a reason to let you know it.
  • Web site comments. Obviously, more and more of our world take place on the Web nowadays, so integrate your comment cards or feedback form into your company’s Web site. Direct your clients to the Web site after you complete a job, and that way you’ll capture their e-mail address, too. Be sure to thank them for leaving feedback, and with their e-mail address, you could even send them a coupon or online gift certificate.
  • Focus groups. If you want to know your clients’ opinions, just ask! You could invite a small group of clients that you haven’t heard from to a focus group. It would give you a great chance to break the silence and see if they were happy with your service, and most people enjoy giving their opinion when they know it will make a difference, so this is a chance to see what you can improve in your company.
  • Happy calls. Be sure to follow up with each homeowner after you install a roof. It’s a simple step to get cus-tomers’ feedback after the job by calling them to make sure that everything was satisfactory.
  • Personal stop-bys. How many roofs does your company install in a day? Unless you’re a really big operation, the number probably isn’t too big. Is it possible to stop by those homes and get feedback from customers on the spot? The savvy owner might already be doing this, but just make the most of any opportunity you have to get in front of your clients. Plus, stopping by the jobsites personally will keep your work teams on their toes.
  • Do a little investigating. With everything happening online today, it’s not too hard to find out all the information you want to know about a company. What’s out there about your company? Your community may have a specific Web site where homeowners post their experiences with companies. What are they saying about you? Log on and find out.
Those are just a few ways to see if your clients are raving happy or raving mad. Just be sure to break that silence before it’s too late.