Take a look at a restaurant’s, clothing stores, dentist offices, or hair salons. Things are moving along as you desired, the services are always up to par, until suddenly they are not.
The food no longer taste as fresh and flavorful; the clothing store begins to sell cheaper material with loose threads hanging (hoping you do not notice); you find yourself with more teeth pain than you did when you entered the dentist; and the stylist, taking you for granted, while also disrespecting your time, makes you wait longer, ultimately resulting in you leaving without the smart look you were hoping to find when you entered the salon.
Do you look past these business owner’s faulty ways and continue receiving this most valued service? Do you value your money and yourself more out of the relationship and part ways? Or do you stick around hoping that they relocate any mojo they seem to lose and become that owner whose expertise you honor once again
It is a fact of life. People, more specifically, humans, fail. They are not perfect robotic creatures that can duplicate their desired results whenever they see fit. Well, maybe we should admit, we would hope this would be our experience. However, more often than not, it is not our experience. So do we divorce ourselves in this less than perfect relationship or do we give them another try?
As cut and dry as we would like this answer to be, it is not always that simple. Sometimes business owners, like ourselves, who are also human, have bad days. Maybe that worker that you trusted to come in for their shift, called off again. Perhaps the shipment that was scheduled to come in, was delayed. Or maybe if you are a stylist, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and could not get it together no matter how hard you tried that day.
However because the consumer pays for a service, the consumer is not as forgiving if or when these unplanned ‘business killing’ situations arise.
So perhaps, business owners should consider a ‘forgiveness’ policy. The first time they get it wrong, you get the service, without paying a cent, for free. That means that if I have to wait for a significant amount of time inside of the restaurant (not a drive through a line where production is driven by how fast they keep cars moving along), for my food, the entire dinner (no matter how large the order) is free.
This is not something that can be used as a ploy by those “professional” complainers. You know the ones that place an extremely difficult order (that is begging for mistakes), and then when the restaurant does not follow every 50 steps to completing the meal to perfection, the professional complainer gets the dinner for free.
What about those who go out with a kind attitude expecting a good clean service, only to find the dirty silverware, overcooked food, and a bad server. Those meals, (the entire receipt) should be free. Perhaps the restaurant will learn about their costly mistakes, and begin to make them less.
For clothing stores, if an item is returned due to bad quality, offer the customer a certificate for like $10 – 20 off their next purchase.
And in the example of a stylist, if they do not begin working on the clients hair and finish upon the agreed upon time, a deduction for every minute past the desired time should begin to be deducted from the cost of the service.
Of course, there is always the Better Business Bureau to help drive down the rating of the organization, like the dentist if they just can’t seem to get it right.
The antics may seem drastic to some business owners who shoot to be in the ‘black’ and not lose money, but customers like to know they matter, not your bottom line. If you want to stay in business for years to come, make sure your customers feel appreciated. After all, the business would not be in operation if it weren’t for the customer.
And if you are seeking to know and understand how your customers feel. Have surveys and focused groups for them. Knowing that it’s not always easy to get customers out to participate, offer an opportunity for those who show up to shop at the store while it’s closed from the rest of the public while receiving some sort of discount off to help sweeten the deal. Yes, it will cost the business owner, but think of how much more they will receive as a result of it from new customers if they get it right.
Getting the current customers feedback is a great way to implement further “what is going right”, and to stop doing, “what is going wrong”. Appreciative inquiry, “the art of showing appreciation for your customers” by letting them know, like a partner in a relationship, that yes, you do love and appreciate them. So let’s get to it! Anything plausible to repair a broken or damaged relationship and keep the client is the ideal.
How many times have you frequented a place of business only to later distance yourself?