The ones that don’t return are more important

Customer Service is a key element of Customer Experience. Many organizations strive very to make service a key focus of their business. That’s good. They run surveys, they call you up, they talk to you and more. I’m sure you have encountered this before. Usually, it happens at a point of service. That’s because it’s easier done there. You send in a product to be fixed and once it’s ready for collection, you get a email, call or form to fill up. You return something at Ikea and they give you a form. Zalora asks you if the dress didn’t fit or the color wasn’t right. Those are important answers to get no doubt, but here’s a twist.
Before I get there, I’ll share this story about World War II.

During World War II, Allied bomber losses were high, so the generals and Allied High Command were seriously worried. They needed answers and obviously, they desperately needed a solution. They commissioned a team of engineers to see if they can make the planes stronger. The team then set out to inspect and examine every bomber they could, gathering great data and insights for each bullet hole. After a long study they decided to add more armor plating to the areas that had the highest concentrations of holes. A bit after these improved planes were deployed, they received some shocking news: more planes were going down than before. Didn’t look like the solution worked at all! Could their data model be wrong? Was there an error in the calculations?
Then the light bulb went on for someone: they had measured every bullet hole in every plane at their disposal, but they’d failed to realize it was the ones that they did not have access to that were the most important. It was the ones that did not return that needed to be inspected. They needed to improve the armor in the places that the returning planes had no bullet holes. Those bullet holes they armored didn’t matter to the airplane – it still got back.
What does that have to to do with Customer Service?

Have you or your organizations gone and spent time investigating the customers that don’t return for a repeat purchase?  i.e. upgrade or return to buy more products. If me, an existing user would stop buying your product or service, I think it is very important that the organization find out why I’m no longer doing so. A year back, I switched mobile service providers after sticking with one provider for the last ten years. I left without a sound from the previous operator. If something made me unhappy, quite likely, it might make others unhappy too. I didn’t return to them. Maybe, the surveys you get from your customers are a little less important to know then the reason why a customer went away. If you find out sooner, you might get the insights to stop the mass migration when that happens.

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