If you do anything in public, eventually you will encounter a hater.

Running for political office. Opening a business. Voicing an opinion. Even something as innocuous as writing about loyalty will bring out people who strongly disagree. Some even get personal about it on occasion.

It stinks. No one likes hearing they’re wrong, or to be challenged in their beliefs. Most of us aren’t comfortable with the idea that someone out there doesn’t like us.

As it is, disgruntled voices can play an important role in our ecosystem. They question our stances and practices. They call out errors and offer passionate feedback. They help us discover alternative viewpoints and lines of thinking we hadn’t considered.

And when the hater is an angry customer, they present an opportunity to win them back - possibly for a long time.

In this article, I'm going to discuss how to find your online detractors, and how to address them. We’ll take a look at one important step to prevent them, a book about haters you need to read, and why you should spend time with those who love you the most.

I had waited weeks to take my wife to the Greek restaurant. It was MY restaurant. I didn't own it or even work there, but I found the small joint tucked away in a typical nondescript strip mall just a mile or so away from our home. The food was out-of-this-world amazing, the service personable and the prices cheap. Perfect.

The food was brought out, and I was so excited for her to try it that I didn't even notice my own plate. I just wanted her to love the place like I loved the place.

She took a bite.

No reaction.

Another bite. A slight look of concern.

"Well? Isn't it just the best you've ever had?!" I asked.

"It's...really dry."

DAGGERS!

The following is a true story:

In a previous life, before my days at Access Development, I consulted with a number of small businesses on marketing strategies. One of my clients was a managed IT firm that focused on end-to-end outsourced technology for small businesses. Exciting stuff, but a very well run business that just needed some help taking the next step.

We began executing on a two-pronged plan - lead gen on one side, customer retention on the other. We brought in new clients, then focused on keeping them through regular engagement and open dialog channels - we invited customers to offer feedback anywhere, anytime, on any communication channel.

Much to the client's surprise, their customers took advantage of these channels. Frequently. And my clients freaked out.

"I'm not sure this is working out," they said. "We're having to expand too much to service the customers. We don't like having to manage this many people."member benefits

This is where the loyalty marketing professionals all collectively slap their foreheads.

There’s a longtime adage in business that says it costs five times more (or even more) to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. It’s cited all over the place, but no one is quite clear on its origins. Don Peppers attributed it to a Harvard Business Review article “from a couple decades ago.” Ipsos Loyalty says it’s outright untrue.

The truth is, there are a number of cost variables every company has in play that muddy the waters between retention and acquisition. There are complicating factors on each side of the equation, but in general, it’s going to cost more to bring a customer in than to keep one in the fold.

That makes it sound so easy. Combine it with the Pareto Principle (80% of sales will come from 20% of customers) and you’ve got yourself a simple game plan for untold fortunes.

What those adages don’t mention is that customer retention is harder than acquisition.

Try to count the methods companies use to generate customer loyalty, and you'll quickly run out of fingers. And toes. And the fingers and toes of your friends and family. A quick glance at our collection of loyalty statistics shows that companies are attempting a variety of tactics, and customers are lapping it up - if not necessarily always returning their loyalty.

Points and miles, punch cards, gamification, discount programs, insider clubs...brands have become incredibly creative in trying to capture the elusive hearts and minds of customers, with decent results most of the time. If a loyal customer is so much more valuable than trying to pull in new ones, then it's very much worthwhile to invest in any idea that can bring a customer back.

Which is why it's so mind-boggling that many companies are overlooking the small stuff that has a direct impact on a customer's perception of the brand. Specifically, there's one area where many brands are simply not doing enough.

Posted by Brandon Carter on Oct 1, 2012 4:15:00 AM

Listen to loyalty marketing types talk long enough, and you're going to hear the phrase "customer service" over and over again. That's because customer service isn't just another department, it's a business philosophy for the most successful companies. That being said, there are still people whose job consists of nothing but answering phones, solving problems, explaining member benefits, soothing bruised egos, addressing angry social networkers and everything else that comes with being a customer service professional.