Turn­ing a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive

South Taranaki Star - - PROPERTY -

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!

123RF

Fix­ing a cus­tomer’s neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence can quickly trans­form a critic into a fan.

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