My dog got sprayed by a skunk last night.
I let Gidget out at 10:15. My wife Amy let her in about five minutes later.
Within seconds, Amy was shouting, “Oh no! OH NO!”
Yep, Gidge was covered in the not-so-subtle smell of skunk. We got her cleaned up easily enough, though, thanks to solid advice from the AKC website.
Later, it occurred to me that - despite the negative experience we’d just had - skunks are mighty cute. Look at that little guy in the picture above. If not for his troublesome anal scent glands, he'd be downright lovable.
And that got me wondering, as I often do post-skunk-attack: Is there something offensive about your company that’s preventing people from loving (or buying from) you?
For instance, does your industry suffer from trust issues? Or maybe your firm has struggled with a public relations problem recently.
I would imagine skunks don’t know that they drive people away, and they’re probably immune to their own tear-inducing mist. You could be just as unaware about a reputation problem your business has, or even personally unaffected by it. (You never did have a problem with dirty restrooms.)
Your company may be attractive to customers for many reasons, but others might be repelled by your “stink” - whatever form it may take.
A few thoughts to consider.
Read your reviews. People who comment about your business on Google, Yelp and anywhere else are doing you a favor, even if their posts are negative. They're bringing problems to your attention, so don’t ignore or dismiss their input.
Address any issues politely and with an appreciative tone. And remember, when you see a pattern of complaints about a specific issue, that’s not a coincidence. That’s a red flag that's worthy of your quick attention.
Re-position the problem. Help people see the bright side or even the value in a perceived negative.
An example: if your restaurant is far off the beaten path, encourage customers to celebrate the getaway they’ll enjoy when they drive to your establishment. Promote the sights and shops along the way or urge them to turn the trip into an overnight vacation by partnering with a local hotel or B&B.
Ask for feedback. Has a potential client turned down your proposal in favor of a competitor’s? If so, don’t just slink away from the relationship. Respectfully ask your contacts why they didn’t choose you. Let them know you value their opinions. Ask them to be specific and, yes, brutally honest.
And, again, look for any patterns that may develop. If the last three people you've presented to turn you down for the same reasons, they’ve identified your legitimate weaknesses for you. Embrace that feedback and use it to get better.
Start a conversation. Are too many people walking out of your store empty-handed? Have an employee with strong communication skills stand by the door. When she sees that a visitor hasn’t made a purchase, she can ask, “What couldn’t you find today?”
If the shopper identifies an item that you do, in fact, carry, your employee can lead the shopper back into the store to help find the item. If the shopper didn't buy because she was "just looking for inspiration,” your employee can hand the shopper a catalog or suggest that she sign up for your weekly emails that are "filled with great ideas."