Your Customers Are Talking About YouJuly 20th, 2012
Some days experience brings us face to face with a worthwhile lesson even when we’re not out “digging for dirt.” This recently happened to me when I was browsing the SmokeRing forums and came across a very sad thread. The story of a victim of bad customer service. This poor guy had purchased a smoker from one of our most popular competitors, but he was having a terrible time communicating with the pit maker. Finally, he got so tired of waiting, he asked for a refund. Even then the company was not keeping their word, and the last I heard, he was about to get a lawyer.
Of course, I haven’t validated whether all the details of this story are true, but it certainly seems authentic. Either way, this story is terrible for the brand.
In small business the stories people tell and how your market perceive you is your brand. If you were Pepsi or Nascar, you could afford to spend millions on a 30-second commercial, but you’re not. Build your brand by creating a good experience with your market, the people you are targeting in business.
We as humans often communicate with stories and make decisions based on friend recommendations. What would people have to talk about if it wasn’t for stories? The pet cat that died last week. The dentist that made the day miserable. The adventurous hunting trip. The delicious (or awful) experience of eating at your barbecue restaurant. Or the meal you catered at their wedding reception and how well you met or didn’t meet the needs.
It would be handy if you could make people only tell the good stories about your brand, but it seems the bad ones circulate faster and farther that the good ones. Something about gossip and bad news propels it around the globe of friend networks. Just one customer telling ten people at a party a negative story is bad enough. When those ten share the story with their networks, it can start to snowball. This is especially critical for local businesses, such as a barbecue joint in a small town.
Here are a few quick tips for providing great customer service:
- Be Responsible. Always follow-up with voice mails and emails. Address any concerns the customer has. Many business owners have too much chaos in their lives to be responsible with the details.
- Keep Your Word. In plain 2012 English, do what you said you would! Show up on schedule, and honor the agreements you made.
- Overdeliver. Do more than you promised. Deliver early and send the customer unexpected gifts.
- Offer a Premium Product or Service. Make the best barbecue around or offer the best coaching on the market, and you will be rewarded with repeat sales and referrals.
- Provide a Roadmap to Success. Give your customer a step-by-step plan on how to succeed and reach their goals.
So to recap: If you are indifferent, you will soon have a couple bad stories floating around that have the potential of crippling your business. It’s not that hard to create a brand that compels people to tell good stories. In fact, there are many ways to get a crowd of fans talking well of you.
You can start today.
PS. How has it been in your business? Share a tip or tell us about your brand in the comment box below.