August 2, 2018

Your Most Dangerous Customer

customer loyalty programLike it or not, part of being a food producer means that we get to hear all the good and all the bad, and the bad, and the bad, and the other things people disagree with us about your business, and some more bad…yep, all of that is our responsibility.

I get it – it can be so frustrating to work so hard only to hear so many negative comments come at you in person, in emails, over phone calls, or online through social media.

However, those folks aren’t your most dangerous customers. Those folks you can do something about because you know they’re unhappy. By voicing their unhappiness you have a chance to do something that may change their perception. You are never going to make all of them 100% happy, but at least you have a chance to try.

Your most dangerous customers are the ones who walk away without you ever knowing they’re disappointed. Those are the customers who will not only never shop from you again, but if asked their opinion of your business or products they will be open and frank about their dislike. Those are the customers who should worry you and the tough thing is that it’s hard to find out who those customers are in the first place.

I thought about this because the other night my husband and I went out on what is probably our 3rd or 4th date of the year. We made a resolution this year to go on more dates and, thanks in part to an adorable but active 3yo, a hyperactive dog, and no family nearby who can pitch in and help, we’ve been falling far shy of our goal. However, we finally got all the stars aligned (no small task in and of itself) and went out for dinner at a restaurant a friend had told us about.

We got there and were seated by 7p. Long story short, because the waitress made a mistake (which she readily admitted), we didn’t get dinner until close to 10p. The waitress was not at all apologetic for her mistake and we were handed our full bill at the end of the evening. We were, to say the least, incredibly frustrated. But by the time the bill came we just wanted to get out of there, get home, and pay the babysitter. So we left.

And we will never go back. While I don’t publicly bad mouth the restaurant, when asked I’ve told people about our experience there. You could argue that I should have followed up with management to let them know of our experience but the reality is that I simply don’t have time for that. Far easier to just chalk it up as a bad night and never return.

That’s what you don’t want people to do with your business. Which means that you have to try and provide exemplary customer service each and every time (yes, I know that’s really hard to do!). It also means that if you have employees – especially those who interact with customers – you should empower them to do what needs to be done to keep (reasonable) customers happy (The unreasonable customers it may not be worthwhile to keep them happy – that’s for you to decide).

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