Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Guarding reputations

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     Your reputation is everything in business. You build your reputation every day. And it spreads, whether it is good or bad.

     Example: Ben runs a small rental operation. He rents carpet cleaners, power washers, concrete mixers, even lawn mowers and power tools needed by homeowners and contractors. When a homeowner called saying she couldn't get the carpet cleaner to work, Ben jumped in his truck and drove to the home to solve the problem. He took along a replacement machine, just in case. But it wasn't needed because Ben showed the homeowner how to run the one she had rented. He stayed and helped her clean the rug in one room. Another time, he rented a lawn mower to landscaper who called to complain that the blade was not sharp. Again, Ben jumped in his truck and took a sharp blade to the landscaper where he was working. 

     Problems can be handled in different ways. Every customer complaint, however, should be handled quickly. Guard your reputation by building customer confidence in you and your business. It's the future relationship that's important.

     Example: Elena runs a small health foods store. She sells organic vegetables, packaged foods, vitamins, supplements and more. When a customer returned a bunch of carrots saying they were woody, Elena refunded the cost and gave the customer a gift certificate in a small amount to be used on anything in the store. The customer used it right away, spending many times more than the value of the gift certificate. 

     By going the extra mile, Elena helped the customer through a disappointing experience. The reputation of the store was protected. And the customer was encouraged to spread the word. 

     Example: Betsy operates a one woman public relations firm. She was a whirlwind of activity with clients. One called to complain that the news release Betsy had written did not get picked up by the local press. Betsy went into action. She called several contacts, got the press release published, and turned a bad situation around. She built customer confidence and prepared the way for future business. 

     Complaints are opportunities. When tackling a complaint, it is useful to remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

     Carefully guard your reputation by showing your customer that you care about them and their problems, that they can depend on you, and that you always follow through. 

      Your customers expect you to stand behind your products and services. But mistakes happen and difficult situations arise. You guard your future by solving problems.  

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