How one employee’s mistake cost a company hundreds of dollars in revenue
When people hear the term “public relations,” they often times associate it with celebrities, high-profile events, and glamour. In reality, public relations (PR) is an industry that takes into account everything that affects the image that your company communicates.
From the words on your website to pitching stories to the media to social networking to creating events and promotions, PR aims to get your company attention and build a buzz with a message that is attractive to your target consumer. But what happens when bad PR comes from within the organization?
We’ve all heard stories about executives involved in scandals that tarnish a company’s reputation. We’ve even heard stories about product recalls that send customers running to competitors. However, a loss in revenue is not reserved for large-scale blunders.
Recently, a friend of mine went from being a loyal customer of a boutique sneaker store to shopping online because of the way he was treated by an employee. He lost respect for a store where he was spending an average of $150.00 per week. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you consider that this person has a passion for limited edition shoes AND that the store is a small boutique that relies on every purchase, you begin to see the problem. Factor in that my friend is now telling his friends not to shop there because of this experience, you have an even bigger problem brewing.
What exactly happened? In the “sneaker head” world, the release date of shoes is regarded as a major event. People will form a line outside of a store hours before it opens just to get their hands on the limited edition sneakers.
On the release date of a particular shoe, my friend was the first one in line. Now, remember the he is a loyal customer and since this is a boutique store, the employees know him. As soon as the store opens he asks an employee for the sneakers in his size. The employee tells him that they are all out of that size. Being that this is the first day that the shoes were released, my friend was confused so he asked how that could be. The employee then tells him that the employees bought the store’s entire stock of that size.
My friend found the shoes at another store, but was extremely upset by the situation. This was his favorite store and he was treated as if he didn’t matter. To make the situation worse, when he commented about it on Facebook, they deleted his comment rather than responding to it.
Imagine this was your business. You just lost a loyal customer and now he’s telling his friends about the situation. None of them will shop at that store again. How could this have changed? In addition to the owner putting a policy in place to reserve shoes for the customer (what a concept), the employee should have used better judgment in serving the customer. More over, his comment on Facebook should have been given attention rather than being deleted. All this did was further cement that this store does not care about his business.
In public relations, there is a very basic principle that can trump every other effort you make to build a good reputation with the public. How is your employee satisfaction?
If your company is failing, the first piece of the puzzle is the employees. If the employees aren’t happy, chances are their customer service is going to reflect that attitude. (I’m not saying this was the case with the sneaker boutique employee, but to say he needs a lesson in customer service is an understatement.)
So, are your employees happy? Have you used a secret shopper to get an insider view on your company’s customer service experience? When a customer does have a negative experience, do you have a system for rectifying the situation? Consider doing this. It will make the difference between your company succeeding and your company failing.