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. They 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.
Plain and simple- Customers are the number one reason to update your business in Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on.
I am not a social media guru, but as a frequent traveler, I use it quite often to plot and plan.
This week I traveled to well known small town in western NorthDakota. I checked Facebook, Twitter and Google before my trip so I would know what was open and where I could eat.
Imagine my surprise when I got there and only a few were actually open.
Talk about a missed opportunity!
There were a good number of us that came over the night before expecting to "Buy, See or Do". The only eatery open didn't open until 4 pm- which meant the following day-unless we chose the gas station, we were out of luck (besides the concessions) Not to mention, here we were ready and willing to shop a bit.
The simple lesson here- Update your hours when they change. If you are a seasonal business- say you are closed for the season. Better yet- on your seasonal sign- invite us to come back again in June or whenever it may be.
In the morning, I remembered there had been a small coffee shop downtown from a previous stop- a brisk walk brings me to the door that Facebook assured me would be OPEN at 8am- as did the sign on the door. Alas- They had changed to "winter hours" and not changed their social media. Lady luck was with me, and the owner was in setting up and graciously unlocked and let me in and plied me with that lifesaving juice called coffee. (and a very delectable muffin to boot!) We had a nice visit about being a small town business and having winter hours. And she admitted she had forgotten to change her hours online and corrected it immediately. Happy Customers poured in when they realized she would let them in early! WIN.
Most travelers don't know what is a seasonal community and what is not. We simply decide to stop. To some of us at this event, we didn't consider 'fall' the end of the season and came expecting more because social media indicated there would be more.
If you know there's an off season event coming up, see if you can open for the day.
Cheers to the little coffee shop and to the gift shop that stayed open the previous night. We appreciated it!
Keep in mind, when people see that a business is supposed to be open, and it is not, they may choose to never return, or they may tell their friends "Ohhh-Don't bother stopping there, they're never open anyway".
Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.