The mince pies are all demolished and there's only a dreg left in the Bailey's bottle. That can mean only one thing; it's January! Happy New Year everyone! A brand new year awaits and if you're like me, you're excited about some new challenges and working with some fantastic businesses.
One of my main goals for 2018 us upping my game when it comes to customer service. We, as a business are going to be addressing how we deliver our services, communicate in general with clients and potential clients, as well as developing new services to meet our client's needs. One important step on the road to doing this is to gather feedback, identify problems and making sure we listen carefully to any concerns or suggestions.
We've are thrilled to have received some amazing feedback and testimonials throughout 2017 but I'm sure, as with all businesses there will be ways in which we can improve and although it might be hard to hear, it's so important to listen, address and improve. Most businesses I'm sure will be engaging in some form of this but I'm also certain, that some will not.
Leading up to Christmas I, like everyone else I'm sure, were ordering from small businesses and giant retailers either directly or online, frantically trying to find the perfect gifts or (in my case) trying to find the best Christmas jumper for the big day. As a consumer, generally, customer service has been excellent, especially at the small independent shops! #shoplocal. However, occasionally I've been faced with things that make me want to take my business elsewhere or just make me feel a little sad for the business owner who is being let down by a member of staff.
I'm sure lots of you have felt the same as consumers. If you're a business owner, sometimes it's worth considering that the smallest of things, could potentially lose a customer. I'll certainly be checking myself and my colleagues as we engage with customers this coming year. In the meantime, here are 5 things that have made me lose faith in a business...
Disinterested and unenthusiastic staff
I arrived at an appointment leading up to Christmas and while I was waiting, two members of staff were having a very loud conversation about how neither of them could 'be bothered this week' and how 'Friday (the last working day) couldn't come soon enough'. I was there to have a two-hour appointment in which I was very much putting my appearance in their hands. Needless to say, that didn't fill me with confidence and I was doubting whether I wanted to stay for my appointment.
If you've got customers listening, being attentive and enthusiastic about your job is as important at the beginning of January, as it is at the end of December.
I bottled it and stayed for my appointment. Luckily it was fantastic! Phew.
Still put me off from booking again though.
Giving a really personal reason to cancel or re-arrange
This is just awkward and unnecessary and will make potential customers feel uncomfortable.
If you're a long-term client for years and years and know each other really well then that's different. But receiving a facebook message from a business to say they're going to have to move the appointment or cancel it because they've 'just had to go with my mum to a hospital and she's been admitted so I feel really emotional right now so I can't make the time' is just bonkers. I'm very sorry for what you're going through but I'm a client dealing with a business so this is just unprofessional. A brief email stating that 'due to unforeseen circumstances the (business name here) will be closed today. Please accept our apologies and we'll be in touch to re-arrange your appointment' would do just fine.
Other similar messages I've received...
'Sorry, can we re-arrange? Most of us are extremely hungover today.' (I wish I was joking)
'I'm going to be late I'm afraid, my boyfriend took my car to work instead of his bike so I'm running for the bus'
'Oh, I completely forgot, sorry!' (this might also go under the 'poor time management and communication' below. Sheesh)
Out of date social media pages
Social Media is one of the most important ways businesses can encourage new business but unfortunately, so many Facebook business pages are neglected. Which is totally understandable when you're a small business, maybe there's not enough time. But if it is, make sure to de-activate or unlink from your website. I've been caught out because the business address on the facebook page has been incorrect and I've driven to the wrong premises resulting in a lot of lost time. If it's not up to date, get rid.
Whether right or wrong, I do tend to lean towards businesses who have invested time in their social media pages. It's one extra way for me to get in touch, read reviews and keep up to date with latest offers and goings on.
Poor time management and communication
If I'm looking for a product or a service I haven't used before, I'll often do the obligatory website search, next stop will be social media for reviews and then I'll get in touch to either ask a question or arrange an appointment (usually for services). If I've got this far and contacted let's say 3 companies, the first to reply is usually going to get my custom.
Obviously, I don't expect a reply within minutes but days for a reply or acknowledgement is certainly a turn-off. Especially when I can see it's been opened and read on social media.
If you're rushed off your feet just a little note saying 'message received, we'll get back to you asap' is always a winner!
Too much packaging!
I can't say that I'm extremely environmentally aware but I'm learning, thanks to working on some projects with some environmental charities and organisations. However even I know what constitutes as unnecessary packaging. Sometimes it feels as though the business is trying to get rid of their endless supply of bubble wrap, tissue paper and cardboard boxes!
There are the obvious culprits (ahem, Amazon) but I was surprised at how many companies over-package their items. It definitely puts me off, for environmental reasons and for the obvious reason that it's bloomin' inconvenient for me to have to recycle all of it!
I would love to hear your experiences as a consumer, I'm sure a lot of you have some interesting stories so feel free to comment! I know as Brits, we are all guilty of being too polite sometimes but I do think it's important to communicate complaints (in a constructive and honest way) to businesses. If they are willing to listen, you might make the experience of the next customer much better. Try not to turn into a moaning minny though! Let's give everyone a second chance for a New Year.
Have a good one you lot!