"Have you checked the children? The call’s coming from inside your house!"

Some scary lines from a classic thriller but how are they relevant to my business you may well ask? Are your problems coming from within your walls?

I was recently dining out, no expense spared, at a shopping centre food court where I became embroiled in a quite heated “discussion” between an unhappy customer and food stall owner.

Wanting to get the hell out of there I decided to mediate and perhaps speed up things to help quieten the noises emanating from my empty stomach. The problem was an irate customer being told by an employee that she could not have her money refunded for an obviously “rare” piece of chicken. Things escalated, tempers flared and finally the manager was summoned from the kitchen.

By now the customer was at boiling point (obviously higher than the chickens cooking temperature) potential customers were crossing the mall to avoid the ruckus and second guessing their need to eat. Eventually the customer calmed down and had their money refunded with a smile from the owner.

The Point of this being; How much irreparable damage is being done to your business at the hands of your own staff ? “The danger within your business.” By not having systems in place or training in how to deal with customers problems and extraordinary requests.

This example could have easily been resolved. No matter what industry you’re in, you will encounter problems that are not of your doing. How you deal with these hiccups can make or break you. Remember Nippys OJ, Conroys, Garibaldi, all big companies, the list goes on! Bad press and the old Chinese whisper will close your doors. You might as well start writing up the “Gone Fishin!” sign.

Your front line people need to know the company policy and response to resolve the small problems and stop them growing. Chris Hendrickson, who works for the Tony Robinson corporation, calls it “Killing the monster while its little". Some simple training and systematic responses can turn potentially nasty situations into glowing testimonials from the same customer.

For example, my father had some work done on his car and had problems with it soon after. The blame fell with a faulty part. No ones fault, just one of those things but it was how the auto-shop dealt with the problem that left my dad recommending them to his mates because they couldn’t do enough for him.

He’s now a repeat customer for life. Be an exception in your business, the customer isn’t always right but to treat them that way and go one step further than your competitors, will have your business being raved about over lunch in a food court somewhere tomorrow.

Gary Lodge

Marketing Consultant
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