Are you a Winner or a Whiner?

Some of you may have seen this article last week about the New York hotel fining brides if any of their guests leave a negative review online.

Outrageous? Yes. Bad PR? Definitely. Poor business practice? Certainly. Isolated case? Maybe not.

I’m not saying fining unhappy customers is commonplace, but blaming everyone but yourself for your business problems is widespread.

The Whiners

B&B owners blaming Trip Advisor for bad reviews rather than focussing on improving their customer service.

Ecommerce shops who use the cheapest couriers and then refuse to take responsibility for lost parcels, expecting the customer to chase it up themselves.

Small businesses posting endless complaints on Facebook about the lack of post visibility. (I can think of a few wedding business guilty of this one!).

Let’s face it, most of us will have had a little rant about something which went wrong at some time. It’s what we do next that separates the winners from the whiners.

The Winners

Winners tell themselves “OK, we have a problem – what can we do to fix it?”

The best B&Bs concentrate on providing fantastic service – and actively ask their many satisfied customers to post good reviews. The result: any negatives get lost in the sheer volume of positives.

If a courier or other supplier is letting you down, find one who delivers to an acceptable standard. Switching from a cheap to a slightly more expensive courier at The Wedding Crafter was one of the best decisions I made – instantly delivery problems dropped to zero, freeing up one of my staff to concentrate on serving customers, not chasing parcels.

And all of us need to understand the risk of moving goal posts when relying on any social network, marketplace or even search engine for our business.

Some business owners seem to forget that Facebook, ebay and Google are not charities and that they will make decisions based on what’s best for their customers (and shareholders) – not what’s best for you. Accept that change will happen and be prepared to move quickly to respond and adapt.

Be a Winner

Follow these 3 steps and make sure you’re a winner:

1. Listen to your customers

They are your best source of feedback and can help you identify issues you need to fix. Be proactive about this. Most people don’t like complaining – especially if things were just not great rather than terrible. By asking “What could we have done better?” you’ll find areas to improve before they become major issues.

2. Identify your risk points

Identify your critical suppliers and your major sources of business and ask yourself what would happen if they went out of business (or changed their rules)? How would this affect you and what is your backup plan? Knowing this will make it much easier to react if the worst happens.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Relying heavily on a single source for business is dangerous. If you depend totally on Google (or ebay or Facebook) for sales you are vulnerable. Diversify your marketing. Other options may not be as cost effective but could keep your business afloat if the worst happens.