business, customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

I Am Breaking Up With You!

It happens you know. Break-ups.

Day after day, customers buying your products and services.

Happiness one day, sharing their bliss for your business, and then?


So how exactly does that happen?  The customer, one day changing their status from “in a relationship” to “single” again.  Out of the blue they are looking for something new and better.

I hear the responses from business owners: it’s the new short-attention span generation, they get bored too easily.  Really, it’s the customers fault?  Look again business owners. Look at the complaints on Yelp and make a list of customers who didn’t come back.  What did you promise them?  What was your brand promise?

One of the most overlooked aspects of owning a small business is the brand promise.  The one that says: My business will (fill in the blank) forever.  McDonalds never breaks that promise.  They make sure that each and every day, in every city in the world, someone is there to greet customers and serve up the crispiest french-fries on the planet with an inexpensive burger and drink.  We can choose not to go there, but we know that when we do, they will honor their promise to us. Fast, consistent and low-cost food. It’s not a noble promise, but it is their brand promise, and they take it very seriously.

Small businesses think their promise is to provide the product and service.  But think again.  Your brand promise is the deep, emotional connection that customers have to you. 

Let’s look at Hair Salons. Millions of women in America lay down plenty of dough to have their hair done.  They search out the promise of stylish cuts that make them look and feel beautiful, but sometimes that promise is superficial.  Salon owners (like many small business owners) do not go deep enough into their promise to make it long lasting and worthy of friend sharing.

Here is the scenario: A customer chooses a top rated salon from Yelp for a hair makeover.  First visit is bliss.  Receptionist welcomes them, offers a selection of beverages. The stylist greets her right on time making her feel like the most important client of the day.  Hair looks great.  Second visit, the receptionist is busy answering calls and forgets to ask if she wants a beverage. Customer grabs a water bottle. The stylist greets her a few minutes late, but is glad to see her again.  Hair looks great. Third (and probably last) visit, the place is crowded and the receptionist is talking with the another stylist on break, K-cups are gone, customer is waiting 20 minutes, and by the time she is called back, the stylist is hurried. Hair looks great as usual, but the custotmer still feels annoyed.

So what was the Brand Promise?

You promised the client they would look and feel good.  Like a rock star! Sure, the stylist gave a great cut and color, but the real promise wasn’t given.  Consistent rock-star-feeling service.  Did you go to the salon for the coffee? No, but it made you feel special to have it offered.  Is your time important?  Hell yes!  If a stylist is running behind, a call in advance, or a quick stop out –at the time of the appointment- with profuse apologies and a Hershey’s chocolate kiss would be nice.  The receptionist?  Yeah, the people in the lobby are the most important folks in the world.  Take your appointment calls, but keep your chit chats to us.  We are the rock stars you know!

Your Brand Promise needs to be defined.  Look at the interaction from your customer’s perspective.  Read the reviews and feel their pain.  Why did you get one star?  What was that customer really feeling? Customer service is about attention and consistency to the promise you made.  It wasn’t just about the great hair style; it was being made to feel great by being the most important client of the day.  It takes effort, but those relationships are rewarded with social sharing and referrals.

Break-up’s happen: Like personal relationships, when one partner feels they are not the most important person, the status changes.   And every business owner knows that it is harder (and more expensive) to find new customers, than to keep the current ones happy.  So make the promise and then keep it.

Do this today: Go and figure it out, your brand promise, and then hire someone to come into your place of business to see if your customers are really getting that promise.  Start with your website, your blog, your social media pages.  Make an appointment, order something. See if your business is really living up to the promises you made when you opened your doors. Just make sure the person is an objective third-party and be prepared to hear the truth.

What are your favorite businesses?  What do they promise you?  Are they delivering on that promise?


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