Measure the Cost of Customer Acquisition

A simple web site that sells products. A problem with one sale, the customer orders a $40 product in error and asks for a refund/credit. Do you train your CS staff to say, "sorry, your fault, no can do" or have you calculated the ocst of customer acquisition and realized that great service will get you more business?

Apple, the company some of us love to hate. Yet, I've never had a better customer experience than the one I have had so far with iTunes. They always give the customer the benefit of the doubt regarding bad downloads or corrupted files, event hough a customer could be lying about say, a rental that expired. Further, iTunes Store has issues several refunds and credits (yes both) for series related to the writers' strike and other oddities, such as the occasional removal of an episode.

On the other hand, you have a company like InkClub.com who refused to work with me on an erroneous order, then added to me to a mailing list (insult to injury!). It is indeed fortunate that I use Sneakemail.com for early dealings with companies like this one. Now InkClub can say, "the customer ordered the wrong product" all day long, but if I were in the retail business, I'd have made some kind of feel good dea,, a win win situation that would likely have resulted in word of mouth business and renewed customer confidence. Instead I'm here to say do not use InkClub, they don't care about customers and their prices stink.

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2 Comments

  • Randulo Zeeek

    "Whatever it takes" is good. An arbitrary limit could be set, such as $100 for lower-level agents' discretion and kick up to higher level if over or in doubt. I just can't get the idea that you'd spend thousands on advertising or other communication and then put a potential long term customer off by refusing a $40 refund gesture.

    I had another issue this week, again less than $100 and this time the company immediately addressed the issue by sending me a return authorization slip for credit. This is why I've dealt with them since 2005. Three years is a century on the web, where new competition arises almost daily.

  • Rick Bucich

    I'm largely influenced on the matter from two of my past employers. The first had a literal "whatever it takes" policy and empowered employees to be able to take direct action on complaints without needing manager approval. The latter had an escalation policy that tackled larger issues by creating high internal visibility (and pain) so resources could be swiftly allocated.