Unhappy Prospects and Customers – a gold mine3 min read

A client told me a story today that illustrates a principle that every business owner or manager needs to embrace and act on.

Unhappy prospects or customers are an opportunity to display your real value and win a fan for life.

Here is the story from the owner of a start up yoga studio in New York City.

A neighborhood person began to say negative things about the studio on Twitter. Challenges about the pricing being too high and a lack of community involvement in the new studio. A PR person working with the studio’s owner responded and engaged the disgruntled neighborhood person. This lead to the owner becoming engaged and an exchange of emails that clarified the concerns and the facts of what the studio was really doing. The neighborhood person also received feedback from others about the competitive pricing for yoga in NYC. All of this lead to an invitation from the owner for the neighborhood person to come by for tea and attend a Saturday evening potluck party at the studio.

The neighborhood person responded with a 745 word blog entry that recited all of her concerns and the email responses by the owner. This blog postings closes with this: ((names occluded by me))

you should note that B…… & Y…..’s instructors are all members of our Inwood and Washington Heights communities – which warms my heart to no end.  so, go to B…. & Y….. this weekend, take a free class, congratulate M….. and wish her much success. don’t forget to take advantage of their special packages before they end.

no matter what, the most important thing for me is community, and we need support our friends and neighbors in all of their endeavors.

maybe we will see you there… the potluck on Saturday night sounds like lots of fun!

The owner of the yoga studio told me that this neighbor came to the potluck and has signed up for classes.

There are many lessons to be noted.

Pay attention to what is being said about you on the Web

First, in the world of instant social media, you must pay attention to what is being said about you on the Web. When negative comments are made, you need to engage them immediately with positive fact-based responses. Find out more about the person and engage them. Every company no matter how small or large needs to have a process in place to regularly follow the chatter on the web. Follow Twitter, Facebook, local Yahoo Groups, and other places on the web where your customers and prospects hang out. Set up a Google Alert to automatically track comments about you and your business.

Greet every unhappy prospect or client as an opportunity to excel

Second, greet every unhappy prospect or client as an opportunity to excel. Be responsive, do not be defensive, ask and listen for the reasons for the unhappiness. Take action to fix or correct these problems or misperceptions. More often than not you will win that person over and make them a fan for life.

Silent, perhaps unhappy, customers who leave and never return

Third, what process do you have to find the silent, perhaps unhappy, customers who leave and never return? Do you follow up with clients who use your services once or twice and then never see again? Remember, you have already put the effort into attracting these customers. You have a relationship with them. They know what you do, where you are, how much it cost, but, for some reason they have chosen not to return. Most people will not complain or explain why, unless you ask.  Put a process in place to ask those silent customers who don’t come back. You will be surprised by the results and learn a lot about how your business is perceived.