Are you loyal to a go-to lunch spot? I was once an obedient follower of a neighborhood healthy fast food place. Recently, I stopped going after two years of loyal patronage. I felt the quality of their food deteriorated. The last straw happened a few weeks ago. I ordered my usual lunch and an hour later my stomach fought back. I won’t go into details but it was unpleasant.
Over the two years I ate there I got to know the owner of this restaurant. She always greeted me with pleasantries and small talk before she took my order. I looked forward to our little exchanges. Plus, I prefer to eat healthy and that’s the specialty of this place.
So, if I enjoyed the restaurant for most of these two years and had good rapport with the owner, why did I stop going? Why not just tell the owner of my recent experience (especially the really bad one)? She deserves that much, right?
Afraid To Speak The Truth
Here’s the thing.
While pleasant and outgoing, she detests any sort of criticism. I once saw a customer complain about her chicken being overcooked and dry. She got extremely defensive. In fact, she took a more offensive posture. I bet that customer ever came back. The message communicated to anyone else who witnessed this event was:
I welcome your feedback… as long as it’s positive.
Being treated in a rude manner makes for an uncomfortable experience. Our nature compels us to avoid uncomfortable experiences. It doesn’t take any persuasion or human psychology genius to figure that out.
But that’s not the lesson here…
When we persuade, influence or sell one of the fears our prospects thinks about revolves around the question:
What if this doesn’t work out? What if there’s a problem? Are they going to fight me on it?
Generous Refund Policies Don’t Cut It Anymore
I’ve written about invisible roadblocks to a sale before. “What if” questions comprise many of these roadblocks. In written persuasion or marketing, your prospect won’t pick up the phone or email you about your refund policy, guarantee or the kind of experience they can expect if a problem arises. You lack the flexibility and feedback available to you in a face to face sales call. Most marketing and sales letters talk about their refund policies. Rarely do they talk about what kind of experience you can expect when you face a problem.
A former mentor once told me that nobody buys anything and expects it to be problem-free forever, especially for the pricey products and services. Your customer needs knows that you stand behind your product. He needs to know you welcome both positive and negative feedback. Most important, he needs an expectation of what to do and what to expect if he faces a problem. He needs to know that all his bases are covered. Customers despise surprises. They crave certainty. If you provide certainty for what they can expect when something goes wrong, then you remove one more of those hidden roadblocks to a sale.
Of course, don’t take this as license to lie. if you tell your customers they can expect a customer service experience where they walk away smiling no matter what issues they face with your product… then you better deliver on that promise!