Why Word of Mouth Advertising is So Important

24 11 2008

We interrupt this blog for a very important post about customer service and the importance of word-of-mouth.

Saturday while in Manhattan to take care of some wedding appointments, we decided to head over to Chelsea Market where the Food Network has its offices and most of their studios.  Since I’m at a restaurateur and chelseamarketfoodie at heart, I was very excited to visit Chelsea Market and it had been something I had been meaning to do while in NYC for a while now.  Though there was no access to the Food Network, there were a lot of fantastic little markets and shops.  As we meandered in and out of them we decided to stop at a little tea shop called T Salon.

Our group totaling 7 people bought a variety of drinks and small items. We thought it would be nice to sit down and enjoy our drinks before venturing back out into the frigid, windy city.  As we sat down we placed a couple shopping bags and drinks on the tables which were set up with couches and chairs around them.  After a few minutes of enjoying our drinks a woman who did not identify herself and was not wearing anything suggesting that she was an employee came over to our table.  She asked us how we were doing and then proceeded to say to us: “You need to remove your bags from my table because they cost $1,500 each”.  As she said this she took a couple of the women’s purses and put them on the ground without asking if it was ok to touch them or anything.  There were several other people sitting around, one who was working on their laptop and another couple who had a bag on another table.  She never said anything to them but instead asked them how their days were going.  After this all happened she proceeded to offer us the services of an on-site astrologer and samples of soup that they were selling.  She acted as if the incident that had just happened about 5 minutes earlier never happened.

A few minutes later my fiance’s mom told us that prior to the rest of us placing our orders, she had sat down outside of the shop on one of the chairs that was there.  There was a sign which stated that you couldn’t sit there if you were talking on your cell phone or had a beverage.  She wasn’t talking on her phone and didn’t have a beverage (yet) so she sat down.  The same woman came outside and told her she had to move because she wasn’t drinking any tea.  The way she spoke to my fiance’s mom was rude and she said she felt as if she was being talked-down to.  Had we known about that none of us would have gone inside and ordered anything from this shop.

Now I can understand how expensive furniture can be and that some furniture can damage easily.  If that is the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to post a sign stating so?  Or she could have come over, introduced herself, asked politely and not mentioned the cost of the tables and we would’ve been more than happy to move our stuff.  But she decided that we weren’t important.  She decided that she did not value the 7 of us, 2 of which work and live in Manhattan, as customers.  She doesn’t care whether we return or not.  If she does care about all of that, then she failed at the chance to have a positive interaction with 7 new customers.

We will never go back into that store or any other locations that may be open or may open in the future.  Why? Because whether she’s an employee, manager, or owner, she is representing that entire company with every interaction she has with every single customer.  Every customer is a chance to build a lasting relationship and to continue building loyal fans of your brand, your product, and your company.  Every single customer matters! Bottom line.  Word-of-mouth is everything!

What are your thoughts?  Have you had a positive or negative experience that has burned a lasting memory?  If you’re an owner, manager, or employee, what do you do to ensure every customer interaction is as positive as possible?

Update: I just wanted to clarify that besides my experience at T Salon, Chelsea Market is beautiful and a great place to go when visiting NYC.  I visited many of the bakeries and other small shops and had a lot of fun. :)

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

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Photo by: Chris Breeze

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2 responses

24 11 2008
Susan Payton, The Marketing Eggspert

Justin–
What’s that saying? When someone is happy they’ll tell 3 people. If they have a bad experience somewhere they’ll tell 10 (or in your case, 10,000). Never piss off a blogger.

24 11 2008
Howard Greenstein

Justin:
Back in 2000 and 2001 I used to work in the marketplace building. Many of the other store merchants are much nicer than you describe. For example, too bad you didn’t walk down the hall a few doors to Sarabeth’s. She’s there often, the cakes are delicious, and the folks are usually pretty nice.
When I’ve visited, I have avoided T salon as I wasn’t sure what it was. Now that I’ve heard from you, I can continue to avoid it.

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