Over the holidays, I bought some of my gifts in one of New York’s most famous stores. Not the one that throws that cool holiday parade, but a second location out in Queens. The logo crossed the bridge, but nothing else did. The place was understaffed, under-stocked, and sorely lacking in friendly, knowledgeable salespeople.
The store had plenty of shoppers, but I was so turned off that I’m not sure I even want to go into their famous flagship store. In short, the store did well that night, but the brand took a major hit. Let this be a lesson if you have more than one retail location.
No matter how awesome your flagship store, station or restaurant, your customers always remember the bad experiences they had in any of your stores, so don’t give them anything to complain about. Make sure your customers get the same treatment across your business by paying attention to these details.
Every fast food place has had at least one customer find something yucky in their food. The story dies down after a day or two, but trust me, it takes a long time to stop feeling queasy at the thought of eating that food again.
It doesn’t have to be a restaurant. Clothing stores with disheveled changing rooms and nasty restrooms have the same effect. So do convenience stores selling food two years past its due date. Every branch of your business should look as clean, new and fresh as the first location you ever opened.
In neighborhoods that attract tourists and wealthy consumers, the service has to be second to none. The problem is that chain stores focus so much on those areas that they let the service lapse in other areas. Don’t be one of them.
Customers don’t always visit the same location when they patronize a business, but they expect the same courtesy, knowledge, and promptness. If your servers or sales associates are friendly and helpful in one location but indifferent or even rude in another, the negative feedback will cast a bad light on all your locations.
There was a restaurant in my neighborhood where the food was good, but they were always out of my first, second and third choices. I got so frustrated that I (and I imagine many other patrons) stopped going. No wonder the place closed after two years.
Some businesses are so big that they can afford to have full service or inventory in some locations and limited resources in others. But these brands have hundreds of locations; you don’t (yet), so make sure all your branches are fully stocked and prepared to deliver everything your company promises.
Your reputation precedes you, but a bad customer experience can follow you if you’re not meticulous about maintaining your brand. Pay attention to all your stores and locations and your customers will sing your praises no matter which location they visit.