The Lessons From Failure

The Lessons From Failure

Friday, March 29, 2024, From Floor Covering Weekly

Sure it is fine to celebrate success. But ultimately it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Yes, you want to create loyal customers and reward them for their loyalty to your business. And you need to ask them what they liked so you can be sure to do that all the time. And you should ask them what they didn’t like. Obviously, the negatives are not that important for the loyal customer but they (the negatives) well might be a deal breaker for another customer.

Retailers love the training sessions on “best practices.” Rightfully so. It is very inexpensive research project that could help your company. You just sit around and tell stories and gossip and from that you can steal the great ideas and take them as your own. If successful, share with others — ultimate Amway project. And oh so modern — recycling ideas!

But as most of you know, the most unhappy customers are the greatest source of learning about your employees, business policies and general operations. So here’s a thought: Attend a training session on “Worst Practices.” We don’t know of any such training but there should be. This is negativity in a very positive way. Kinda.

Why do this? Perhaps the most difficult thing about sharing big failures is you must possess some humility or humbleness. Like real, not ‘gosh I need to look humble’ humble. Too often the response to a problem is to think you have a ‘problem customer,’ or this issue is a ‘one off’ and won’t ever happen again.

A humble store owner will always ask and wonder if the issue is a systemic problem. Is the system leading to this problem or is the employee the problem? It well might be that you haven’t considered the unintended consequences for the policy. You won’t know if the complaint is actionable beyond fixing the problem for the customer without looking at the larger issue — is this issue frustrating our sales efforts, is this issue frustrating customers, is this issue an issue with your sales staff?

The Net Promoter Score, (a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement devised by Bain and Co. taken from asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others) is measured by taking your happy customers and subtracting those that are not happy. A higher number is the goal. More happy customers than unhappy is your net promoter score.

If all the retailer does is try to fix the problem and fails to do so, that unhappy customer is worth more than 1 negative point. Like 10 negative points: with social media she can and will trash the business to all of her “friends.” But if the retailer fixes the problem to the customer’s satisfaction and the dealer realizes this is a systemic problem and fixes that also, that negative is actually worth +10 points or maybe even +100. It is not negative for bad reviews if they are fixed!