The weight of bad word of mouth


We’ve all had some sort of negative experience with a company. Whether it be you were on hold for 30 minutes or the sales person gave you the wrong stuff or the dinner was cold. At some point in time we’ve all been let down. But at what point does it matter? If I have a bad dinner at the local restaurant will I go back? If a car continuously has problems will I buy that car? Based on the value you put on the transaction or interaction with a company determines the weight of bad word of mouth.

Take these two examples…

1 – About 13 years ago my dad had neck surgery. It was imperative that he have it so he took the recommendation of one (maybe even more) of his doctor’s and went with surgeon A. Pre-op was great and the surgery seemed to go well until a short time later when my dad realized that his neck was no better and he had an unbelievably disgusting looking scar on his neck. Even 13 years later he can’t hold his neck properly and often has pain.

2 – Monday I thought I’d be a good Samaritan and donate blood. I do this as often and I generally go to a location about 30 minutes north of here but on the weekends. Because it was going to be after work, I decided to try the newly remodeled location not far from where I work. I get in, fill out the paperwork and the nurse pulls me in to one of the offices to go over my medical history. She then pricks my left finger for a hemoglobin count. It was too low so she pricked the other hands same finger. This time it worked. I then cruised on over to the comfy chair to donate – me and my two middle fingers wrapped up in Band-Aids.

The next nurse comes over, tries to find my vein and calls over another nurse who’s “stealth” as she says, when it comes to finding veins. She finds it, pops the needle in, I say it stings, she moves the needle out a little bit (I guess it was in too much) and then I hear something to the effect of “oh no!” Apparently when she was taking the needle out a bit she bruised me. Not sure how she knew that already but that’s why she’s a nurse and I’m not. I look down and there’s blood coming out of the needle injection site. Hmmmmm. If the blood was going through the tubes for collection that would be one thing, but it was on my arm. Within a minute my arm had swollen up, it was sore and bruised. They immediately wrapped it up and iced it. After getting my permission they moved to the right arm and I was successfully able to donate blood.

So, would my dad recommend his neck doctor? Absolutely not. But, how many “don’t use this doctor” would it take to deter someone else from using him. Would I go back to the blood bank – I haven’t yet decided. Maybe both cases were rare accidents. Maybe both cases happen all the time. I don’t really know. But what I do know is that based on the “value” that’s put on the interaction/transaction will determine the importance and weight of the recommendation or non-recommendation.

How does this relate to the customer reference professional? Make sure you know the good and bad points of what the customer thinks of you and/or your company. It’s okay if there are some negative comments, but be aware of what they are so that you can counter act them if necessary.

BTW, Bay Area blood banks are critically low on “0” type blood so donate if you can 🙂

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