While I concede that we have a number of 'Agony aunt' type consumers out there who revel in damaging brands, what is of even greater concern is that many negative customer experiences are simply left unsaid. Well, that's what the brands are thinking anyway.
The truth is that many conversations about poor services are taking place right now, between (ex) customers and potential (ex) customers. These are the clients that have been left feeling like they've been short-changed. They didn't voice their concerns and if they did, they were met with no response.
Many brands simply ignore the customer and the potential feedback loop. They hide behind the all-too-simple view that, "we have feedback mechanisms and if clients don't use them, then what are we to do?" The truth is, asking someone to press a few buttons at a till or reply with a rating via e-mail, is simply not good enough.
I recently took my family to dinner at a well-known family restaurant. We ordered a burger, a garden salad, a chicken mayo sandwich, a side order of mushrooms and a small portion of ribs. The burger was the worst I have ever eaten. I called my waiter and advised him of the fact and asked him to remove my meal. He did.
I said that I was not interested in making an issue of it, but that he should convey my disappointment. He didn't apologise. The manager didn't apologise. Nobody said a thing.
Yes, I paid the full price of R243.00 but we will never be going back. All of my friends now know what my experience was and readers here will now also know. I'm not going to mention the outlet, but my description of the meal should provide some clues.
My one experience above highlights a wholesale failure across the board for this brand. Quality, service and experience were all missing. They had the opportunity to remedy the situation, but they chose not to. They are a franchise organisation and this means that the impact could potentially be even worse.
This is not unique to this brand and many consumers will share similar stories, stories that must be heard. Brands need to develop keen consumer ears; they are after all, consumers themselves.
One of the biggest opportunities a brand has at its disposal is its own staff. The opportunity to remedy a failure can often be a brand's single biggest asset, and it's their staff that will be the ones to make this happen.
In short: be certain that your feedback loop is there, ensure that you have a team of people willing to be part of this and that you provide significant and relevant feedback to your clients.