Here are two examples of experiences I had last year. When was the last time you had an outsider's view of the experience you offer?
Local hairdresser run by a husband and wife team
For a woman, one of the scary things about moving to a new area is having to divorce her hairdresser! That happened to me. I had moved out of London but wanted a similar salon experience. After a false start, where I was lured in by a big name and got a passable cut but a hectic service I chose an independent salon with a brand I found attractive. The haircut was a disaster! A bob that was significantly shorter on one side than the other. I sent an email saying that I wasn’t sure it was sitting properly, and could I pop in?
How to deal with an unhappy customer
Amazing. A phone call that day. Could I come and see the creative director the next day, if not, when would be convenient? My consultation was great, she was warm, friendly and not at all put out that I had complained. She listened to my concerns. Agreed and described what she could do to put things right. One of the owners came over and thanked me for giving them the chance to put it right.
An amazing haircut for me and a loyal customer for them who is an advocate for their brand, recommending them wherever possible.
2 National bathroom supplier and installer
The navy-blue bathroom cave that had existed in my house when I bought it six years ago, had to go. I would usually invest serious time in making decisions like this, shopping around for the right products and negotiating the right deal on installation. However, feeling like I would treat myself, I decided to take the more luxurious route this time and paid more for the product supplier to install it too.
At 8:00am on the Monday work was due to start, no one turned up. I had confirmed the date with the office over the weekend. I called, it wasn’t open until 9:00! A small thing but this was the sign of things to come. Work started a week later. The installer wasn’t on site most of the time, a junior carried out a lot of the work. The end result was awful. I contacted the office and complained.
How not to deal with an unhappy customer
I was offered £200 compensation in the form of product. I politely declined, because I had a whole bathroom, I didn’t need anything else. The regional office didn’t call back, they didn’t answer my emails and the website didn’t offer me any other options. On LinkedIn, I found a Customer Experience Director, he got things moving. It still took constant chasing from me but six months later the issues had been put right. On the last day of work, I received (another) grammatically incorrect email from my regional contact asking if I was happy. I said I thought the work was ok and when was he going to inspect it (as he had with everything else)? He said he wasn’t and that he would leave me in peace to enjoy Christmas. I haven’t heard anything since, from anyone.
A bathroom tainted by an extremely stressful experience. Someone who will never recommend their services. And who will dissuade others from using them whenever the subject comes up in conversation.
Make sure the customer experience you provide is more like the first one. As a business owner you're too close to it to be objective, you need a fresh pair of eyes.