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  May 27, 2011
A Satisfying Experience...


It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one.

A typical dissatisfied customer will tell 8 people about their problem.

Seventy-three percent of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint in their favor.

If you resolve a customer compliant immediately, ninety-6 percent will do business with you again.

Of the customers who stopped doing business with you, sixty-eight percent do so because of an attitude of indifference by the company or a specific individual.

This past week, I attended the Electronic Distributor Show (EDS) in Las Vegas.  The show is an opportunity for manufacturers of electronic components and electronic distributors to meet, talk about business and socialize together.  Meetings are typically by appointment only and are generally held in suites in the upper levels of the Paris Hotel.

OptiFuse used to participate in the show in an official capacity but recently stopped after the return on investment (ROI) became a negative number.  Now I attend the event in an "unofficial" capacity opting instead to have select breakfast / lunch / dinner and coffee meetings with industry friends, distributors and media people.

Las Vegas is a relatively easy place to get to with many different airlines offering several flights each day.  Hotel rooms are aplenty and dining options abound.  In terms of logistics, it makes perfect sense for a trade show, like EDS, to choose Las Vegas as a host city.  There’s only one problem...I hate Las Vegas!

After nearly 100 visits to Las Vegas over the course of the last 50 years, I now believe that there must be some kind of microchip implanted in my body that alerts service providers to my arrival.  How else can I explain the incredibly poor customer service, outrageous prices, and outright scams perpetrated upon me (and presumedly others) once we land at the Las Vegas airport.

My personal experiences on this particular visit included a taxi driver who purposely added 3-4 miles to the fare from the airport to the MGM Grand hotel, a hotel who tacked on a $25 resort fee to a prepaid hotel room, falsely calling it a "city tax" that all hotels must charge its guests (yes...I checked and found this to be false), a $17 "happy hour" martini and $4 plain club soda (no not bottled sparkling water such as Perrier) + tip in the lobby of the Paris hotel, another taxi ride with additional "scenic detours" on my way back to the airport and $4.00 vending machine water at the Las Vegas airport (no drinking faucets in the terminal were operational that particular day).

I’m sure the practices of gouging customers are common place for many big cities catering to business and tourist travelers but the service providers in the travel and hospitality industry of Las Vegas seems to raise the bar just a bit higher than most.  Perhaps the reason it bothers me so much is the total lack of empathy, when I verbalize my disatisfaction, by these seemingly misnamed "hospitality providers".  It appears to me that these service providers have an outwardly and overt distain for their customers and want nothing else but to separate their "marks" from their money.  

Upon my arrival back in San Diego, I began to wonder about the service industry in my own city.  

I have, over the years, acquired a vast network of trusted service providers, both personally and professionally.  These providers include accountants, doctors, dentists, auto-mechanics, landscapers, maintenance people, attorneys, insurance agents and computer professionals.  I trust these companies and individuals and would recommend them to friends, associates and loved ones. 

Some of these providers charge top dollar for their services while others are relative bargains.  Regardless of the prices charged, all of the service providers offer top value to their customers and their businesses have grown largely due to word of mouth by satisfied customers.  Moreover, they show respect and gratitude toward their customers understanding that the the best way to stay in business is to keep their customers happy.

These service providers have built their successful businesses based on their reputations as being highly qualified and providing outstanding value.  They depend on referrals from others and go out of their way to resolve disputes and make their customers feel as though they received the maximum value.  By doing so, their businesses have prospered even in these challenging economic times.

The key to providing outstanding service is creating trust between themselves and their customers...especially if their service is one that requires specialized knowledge such as IT or automotive repair. 

If your mechanic tells you that you need a new water pump to fix your car’s problem and you trust them, then you will allow them to perform the necessary repairs without going off to seek a second opinion.  However if a new water pump is installed and the problem still exists, then the mechanic will soon lose your trust and you will soon go off in search of a new mechanic.

Trust is built by providing and satisfying customer needs and handling problems in a timely manner...immediately if possible.  Once trust is established between the service provider and the customer then it is highly likely that the customer will provide repeat business and/or recommend you to another person.  If the trust is broken, then the dissatisfied customer will tell everyone they know about the problem and dissuade others from doing business with that service provider.  

Here’s the interesting thing:   No matter what business we’re in, we are all in the customer service business.  We all need customers to continue and grow our businesses regardless of whether we have a product or a service.

It is much easier to keep a current customer satisfied than try to attract a new customer but we often forget this...until our customers are all gone...

Based on the way that they treat visitors, I’m quite certain that Las Vegas has forgotten this fact...but perhaps they don’t need any more customers...but one day all of the hotel rooms will be vacant...but by then...it’ll be too late...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we try our best keep all of our custommers satisfied...


Jim Kalb

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