February 7, 2024

Sometimes bad reviews are better than good reviews.

Just rolled back into town from the Las Vegas furniture market – a biannual pilgrimage I make to film seminars for one of my clients. It’s a bustling hub of ideas, designs, and, most intriguingly, strategies that stretch far beyond the realm of furniture. This year, one seminar in particular lodged itself in my mind, presenting a sales philosophy that's as unconventional as it is insightful.

The speaker, a seasoned owner of a thriving retail store, shared his somewhat controversial tactic for building customer loyalty. Picture this: a customer has just agreed to a purchase, pen still warm from signing on the dotted line. It’s here the owner leans in and says, “I hope something goes wrong with your order.” Yes, you read that right. It’s not your everyday customer service mantra, but bear with me.

His follow-up is crucial. After expressing gratitude for the sale – because manners matter – he dives into the heart of his philosophy. In a world where a seamless purchase is the norm, it’s the expectation. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? That's the real test. This owner argues that a hiccup in the order process isn't just an obstacle; it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to demonstrate the depth of the store's commitment to their customers, to go above and beyond, to not just rectify the mistake but to turn the situation into something memorable.

Think about it. When everything goes smoothly, you're satisfied, but it's exactly what you expected. It’s a transaction that fades into the background of your day-to-day life. But when a problem arises, and the company steps up in a way that surprises and delights you? That’s something you talk about. That’s a story you share. It’s these moments that can transform a happy customer into a loyal advocate, a source of referrals who trusts that, even when things go south, they’re in good hands.

This approach flips the script on the fear of negative feedback. Instead, it suggests that sometimes, a bad review, handled with grace and a genuine commitment to service, can be more valuable than all the five-star ratings in the world. It’s a reminder that in the unpredictable world of retail, it’s not about avoiding problems altogether but about how you respond to them.

From a personal standpoint, as a 40-year-old-something guy navigating the complexities of life and business in North Carolina, this philosophy speaks volumes. It’s about authenticity, resilience, and the kind of down-to-earth, no-BS approach to service that I respect. It’s a lesson in the power of turning challenges into chances to impress and build real, lasting relationships with your customers.

So, next time you’re fretting over a potential negative review or a mishap with an order, remember the wisdom from that Las Vegas seminar. Embrace the opportunity to exceed expectations and turn a not-so-great situation into a testament to your commitment to your customers. Sometimes, it’s the bumps in the road that make the journey unforgettable.

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