Isn’t it funny how your perception of a business can change ?
When we moved in to our new home two years ago, the process of unpacking the multitude of boxes made the hunger pains start however the fridge had not been plugged in and the food boxes contained nothing that appealed to the appetite ! Fortunately we had relocated to the Inner West and two minute’s walk from our place is a run of shops.
I grabbed my wallet and my then 18 month old and I walked (he got carried) up to our very local shops. Within quite literally ten metres of each other there are two bakeries. I strolled in to the slightly closer one and was met by 3 smiling faces and a big “can I help you ?”. We were off to a great start ! The lady serving me was very helpful whilst the other two ladies were very taken with my little boy. They clucked and cooed and after I spent my $20 or thereabouts and was about to leave they gave my little boy a cookie and said, “see you soon”.
Needless to say we started going back on an almost daily basis and would easily spend on average $30 a week, which I would suggest should have made us a “regular customer”.
The service remained reasonably consistent for about 12 months and we could not have been happier – buying bread became a bit of an outing/event and my son was always the first one at the door, champing at the bit to buy bread (and maybe score a free cookie……………he was only two and a half afterall !!!).
Both my wife and I enjoy a nice chunky sandwich and so we have always bought our bread UNsliced – the added benefit being the bread seems to remain fresher for longer. Upon arriving at the bakery every second day, if not every day we would ask if they had an UNcut loaf or if there was anything fresh out of the oven ? (There is NOTHING better than warm/fresh bread with a chunk of butter on it).
Now, for the purpose of this post I am going to ignore the fact that we had to request an uncut loaf each and every time, which in itself is frustrating. What we both began to notice was that we were gradually being treated with more and more disdain until eventually we were almost ignored and then one day the owner’s wife came out and informed my wife that the cut loaves were fresh each morning and why couldn’t we just take one of those ? Shocked, my wife left the bakery without purchasing anything and she came home to tell me the story.
Interestingly enough and against my usual mode of doing things; rather than speak directly to the owner or his wife about loyalty and customer service, we “voted with our feet” and now we buy all of our bread from either the bakery two doors up OR we go to the less expensive and much friendlier again bakery that is a car trip away !!!
All of this got me to thinking………………
All of the hard work that these people did at first to gain our repeat business was undone over a period of time by making us FEEL like we were being difficult ! And then, it came to a head when they then confirmed our feelings by confronting us. Would it not have been much easier to just keep a loaf aside for us each day ? Worst case scenario is that someone else would have bought it later on. As os often happens with this sort of experience, I shared it with local friends and family and they too have stopped using the bakery as my experience was echoed (if not to the same degree) by them. Overnight, their business is potentially $2000-$3000 a year less profitable due to the loss of “our” business.
Will this send them broke ? I sincerely hope not ! It is a family owned business and they have a small family to feed.
Someone once said to me “there is plenty of dough in dough” !!! Unfortunately, no matter how much money there is in a product/service without CUSTOMER SERVICE it can be worthless…..