Etiquette Part III- Follow Up

There is nothing more powerful than good follow up.  It is where most people tend to drop the ball.  You do your best to earn a customer, you do the work, and then they never hear from you again.

Following up after a sale gives you two ways to earn business.

1) It shows that you have a genuine concern for the work you do, and for the customer’s ultimate satisfaction.

2) It gives the customer a chance to offer feedback. 

Number 2 is far more important than number 1.  Customer feedback gives you a real chance to get a snapshot of the impression you are leaving.  It helps you to improve business processes.  However the most important thing it does, is uncover dormant problems.

When I was in the hotel industry, they taught us that the person who complains is your God send.  They tell you what is wrong, and give you a chance to fix it.  It is the unhappy customer who says nothing and leaves that is your real nightmare.  They leave unfulfilled, giving you no real chance to make them feel otherwise, and then tell everyone they know what a bad time they had.

If we had any suspician that something was not well, we were encouraged to probe.  One time in particular, I was working breakfast and a couple came in to eat at 5:30am.  I first thought they must be from the east coast and still on that time.  However upon asking I found they were from Tempe, where the hotel was located, and were just getting a night away.  There was an instant red flag: A couple on a night away doesn’t get up at 5:30am.   Upon asking again why they decided to come in early they shared that there was construction in their hall.  They were told that the crews didn’t start til 8am when they booked their stay, but this morning, they had started at 5am.  They couldn’t get any rest so they got up for breakfast.

The Buttes was a neat place at the time, so I was actually able to comp their room and breakfast right there on the spot without any management approval, etc.  Their thought was to empower the employee to handle grievances, as making them repeat a bad event over and over to the management hierarchy only reinforced the bad experience.

The follow up questions caused them to share, and allowed us to do the right thing.  Now they may still have a story that they were awaken at 5am, but the end to that is that at breakfast a consciencious employee recognized their potential situation, proactively asked them to share, and then responded immediately to handle the situation as best it could be handled at that time.

I would argue that follow up is probably the most important when you know there may have been a problem.  Most people avoid calling customers who they know have had a bad experience and hope that the customer doesn’t call to complain and just disappears.  Many times they will, but know they are taking more than their business away from you when they do.


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