I am addicted to lattes. Soy lattes, to be precise. And it has to be the BonSoy brand of soy milk, or the latte is ruined for me. All other soy milk brands have a taste I do not care for, so I’m very particular about my lattes. I’ll walk all over the street or a shopping mall to find exactly what I want.
The other day I was at a nearby shopping strip, walking around, looking for BonSoy.
In one of the cafes the guy (turned out to be the owner) told me “nah, mate, I used to have BonSoy but then people complained it was no good, so I’ve switched”.
I didn’t really buy the story, as BonSoy is a high-end brand and is usually found in well to do cafes, but regardless of whether or not the story was true, I left that shop with a negative feeling. It wasn’t just the fact that he didn’t have what I wanted but also I felt somehow invalidated by that little speech.
It wasn’t a big drama, just a subtle feeling, but enough for me to be reluctant to go into that shop again, for coffee or anything else.
I started to think about it and realised that, from his point of view, I could understand his response. If people complained, it was most reasonable of him to switch milk brands. Even if there were no complaints and he simply switched to a cheaper brand to cut costs, I could understand that too.
But from the customer’s point of view, his response lost him potential return business.
The correct response in that situation was “sorry, mate, I don’t have BonSoy right now but the next time you come in I’ll have it here for you.”
A long-life carton of BonSoy costs $4.00 – a single coffee would pay for the entire carton. He could just buy it and keep it there for fussy customers like me.
The correct response (and the appropriate action) would have made me feel a valued customer and buy him and his coffee shop a lot of good will.
It doesn’t matter what you do – whether you’re a small business operator or a corporate employee, you must always be aware of your customers’ point of view. You must constantly put yourself in your customers’, your boss’, your colleagues’, your spouse’s shoes and look at things from their perspective. You may still choose not to oblige, but at least it will be through a conscious choice, not blunder.
My advice, however, is to always give your customers what they want, because if you don’t, someone else will, but that’s a subject of another #Startup&BusinessTip.
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