One of the most interesting complaints that I hear from small business owners–from cafes to pre-schools–is that “younger” people are not flexible.
This is an interesting observation: First because is true, and second, because it is not totally true.
Millennials (born between 1976 – 1994) are probably one of the most dynamic (and flexible) generations to come along in a very long time.
Data shows: They value realism, are confident, fun, and very social. They want honest and socially responsible experiences from the companies they frequent, but when it comes to second visits–you don’t’ get much opportunity to show them how good you are.
Take a look at this recent Article in Social Media Today,
What Are Millennials Starving for (Other Than Your Attention)?
The article is talking about restaurants ( really all service based companies.)
The most important part of this article: “if they aren’t satisfied on the first visit, they’re twice as likely not to return. And when you pair that with the fact that 55 percent of Millennials share bad experiences online – your business can’t afford to fall out of favor with this highly connected and influential group.” That goes for every product and service.
No three strikes and your out.
First off, I wouldn’t blame the Millennials for the once and your done attitude (but you might want to look at the Gen Xers who raised them.) In the past, time always equaled money, and the parents, who raised these latch-key kids, made it very clear that this was the way of the world.
Well times have changed. Time does not equal money anymore…today time is money. Time has finally surpassed money as the most important commodity–at least to the newest consumer generation. They want flex-time at work, benefits attached to their jobs that give time-off for life events, and they don’t want to work off the clock. Time is part of the compensation plan. So why should they give you three strikes when they are spending their money/time on your product or service?
Think about it, you go into a restaurant or business–a place that has exactly what you want and crave, but the service is sub-par at best, maybe the staff is chit chatting in the corner, or the waiter forgets you are there. It eats away at the experience we are looking for as the customer. I am here to eat your food, or buy your clothing, or drop my kids off at your business–pay attention to me! I am the customer.
Give me an experience, acknowledge me, and I will reward you.
But, treat me like I am not really there? Strike Out, next!
For all businesses today there is YELP, and don’t kid yourselves, people are using it. Good and bad experiences are being noted, and people are reading and making decisions based on what they read. Those little stars are like potholes in the road people….if you don’t have enough stars to attract me, I will go down another street and find someone else. (It is not just restaurants anymore!)
So as the owner/manager of your business you must respond to everyone who makes a comment. Why? Because that is the social experience that this generation wants. It is the handshake at the front door, the smile and nod when you enter the room. It is an acknowledgement that you are paying attention to ME! (hello? the customer!)
- Thank them for taking the time to comment.
- Thank them and offer to talk with the waiter/sales person and fix the issue.
- Thank them for their suggestions.
- Invite them back for better service and say “ask for me so I can meet you in person!”
- Offer a free appetizer if appropriate, or ask for their email to drop them a personal note, or text them something.
- CREATE A BETTER EXPERIENCE.
For service companies (stores, preschools, product based companies) you should be communicating with your customers often. Who says that Newsletters are dead? Send postcards! Invite your customers to sign up on your site for offers and information (and then do it–offer and give information back.)
Blog about your business–more importantly, blog about things in your industry. Give us information that makes us interested in what you offer me–and it’s not just products and services, but the experience of using them.
Are you keeping up on the latest news in your industry? Do you read articles? Books? Blog about it, post about it. Give me the latest, cutting edge scoop on what you do.
Giving back to your customers opens the door again, especially when they had a bad experience the first time, they might just come back because you made the effort to get to know them and their needs. Stop treating your customers like they are expendable, or spoiled. Reach across the aisle and shake their hands once in a while. It may just impact your bottom line with five-star reviews that put cash in your register!
I Yelp about everything, how about you? What was your last review?