Let me tell you about it… / by Annette Tait

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Small towns have the best “news services” ever. If you’ve ever lived in one, you know everyone’s already heard about your embarrassing moment, practically before you even did whatever you really wish you hadn’t.

You don’t even have to be from a small town -- with social media, whatever went right or wrong is spread far and wide in a few mouse clicks. Reputations can be made -- or broken -- in a heartbeat. If you want loyalty, you have to earn it … and earn it … and keep earning it.

As humans, it’s in our nature to complain. Think about it -- when something goes wrong, we want to vent. We talk about it to get it out of our systems. The more it bothers us, the more we talk about it.

Business owners and service providers need to take that to heart. A customer who has a bad experience will tell twice as many people as a person who had a good one. Especially when there’s a great experience to compare the bad one to. And boy did we, in nearly perfect black and white.

Not too long ago, disaster struck twice in the same day. And, of course, the two “urgencies” -- they didn’t rate “emergency,” but still needed immediate attention -- were totally unrelated, so we couldn’t call one company to take care of both. Big surprise, right?

At any rate, the first situation involved multiple phone calls, being put on hold, being promised call backs, waiting for callbacks that didn’t come, calling the vendor, and plenty of promises that weren’t kept. The issue was finally taken care of, but it took nearly an act of God and Congress to get there.

While all those fun and games were going on, the washer started making noises and not working right. The kind of noises that mean serious problems. So we called the repair shop. Phone call, promised call back. Great… more fun.

But that second problem turned around in a hurry. The promised callback came, troubleshooting questions were asked, the repair shop did some checking on parts in stock and the calls on its agenda, and -- REALLY? If it wasn’t an inconvenience to us, they’d be out at 6 p.m. and were pretty darn sure they could fix it. And they did.

This is only the second time we’ve used that appliance repair shop. And both times they’ve answered our questions, been prompt and efficient, honest -- that gets triple points -- and reasonably priced. And we've been shouting their name out far and wide, praising their responsiveness and good service.

On the other hand, there’s vendor #1, which we won’t name. We’ve used that service for dozens of years. They have some of the best diagnostics in the region, and others refer to them for difficult issues.

But when a follow-up was even worse than the original experience, we called the business manager. The made it good, but still -- we just don’t see them in the same light we did in the past. They’ve been growing, and service has been slipping. We’ll remember that.

And business owners need to remember that, too -- especially in small towns and rural areas. Just because you’re the only game in town, doesn’t mean we can’t go elsewhere.

Want our business? Then show us.