Turning a negative into a positive
Businesses can turn disgruntled customers into happy ones by fixing problems and listening to feedback, says Erin Reilly.
Recently I went out for dinner. The entrees were delicious (salt and pepper squid, anyone?), the mains were average (my pork belly was all fat and no crunch), and the dessert (croissant bread and butter pudding with caramel sauce) was to die for.
What have I done since? Raved on to everyone I’ve bumped into about the food. What haven’t I done? Told the restaurant.
The power of word of mouth is incredible. Some studies say that almost 70 per cent of dissatisfied customers will tell between nine and 15 people about their bad experience. That’s nine to 15 people who might have visited but decided not to because they trust their friends more than they do strangers. It’s essential, then, that businesses provide exceptional service every time to not only their actual customers, but also their potentials. Neighbourly is a NZ-owned social media site creating easy ways for neighbours to talk and connect. Join us at neighbourly.co.nz or download our new iPhone and Android apps.
It goes without saying that good experiences equal repeat customers. But a great experience doesn’t always come down to the product you’re selling. Look at your establishment through the eyes of a customer and honestly ask yourself if there are parts of the overall experience that could be improved.
Maybe it’s the time it takes to make a cup of coffee, or how many food options you have in the cabinet. Maybe it’s turning on a heater and greeting everyone who walks through your door with a friendly smile. Or maybe it’s something as simple as turning on the radio.
Review websites and social media platforms like Neighbourly can sway prospective customers too. Especially in the accommodation industry where online reviews are frequently the make-or-break when it comes to choosing a destination to travel to. Therefore, even if negative feedback doesn’t come to you directly, it could still pop up online somewhere else so it’s important to be willing to address it in whatever shape it comes in.
But don’t take bad feedback as a negative; turn it into an opportunity. Fixing a customer’s negative experience can quickly transform a critic into a fan. Being willing to go above and beyond to leave your customer feeling like they’re the most important person in the world is a sure-fire way to turn frowns into smiles. And even if they don’t return, they’re more likely to tell their friends about the effort you made to fix the problem rather than dwell on the problem itself.
If it’s online feedback, consider inviting the author to contact you directly so you can take the discussion ‘‘offline’’. But remember that public acknowledgement can show a wider audience what a truly great company your business is.
If a lot of people are raising the same issue, you might just have a problem that needs to be fixed. Those complaints could be the barometer of what your entire customer base feels so it’s important to take them seriously.
And if you’re a consumer, don’t be afraid to share your experiences – good or bad – with a business. If it’s good, you’ll put a smile on a business owner’s face and feel great about it yourself. And if it’s bad, you’ll give them the opportunity to fix it for you and the next person who walks through their doors. It’s a winwin!
Fixing a customer’s negative experience can quickly transform a critic into a fan.