THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? WHY NURTURING EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS IS THE KEY TO RETENTION
Who comes first: employees or customers? When posed this classic business question, Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher had an easy answer: employees. “If employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right,” Kelleher explained. As Kelleher knows well, employee-customer relations are a cycle — one that fuels recurring business. Engaged employees deliver service that converts to sales, a fact backed up by a Gallup report. Gallup cited a 20 percent increase in sales as a result of this process. Even as you’re courting leads, you can’t ignore your existing customers. Likewise, even (and especially) as you grow, you have to nurture your employees. The cost of losing either is too high. In the holiday rush, it’s important to not lose sight of your priorities. GET THEM HOOKED ON YOUR SERVICE. Have you ever asked a client why they return to your business? Do you think it’s because they can’t find your product or service anywhere else? Probably not. Think about the last time you returned to a restaurant. Was it because it’s the only place in town that makes amazing Thai food? Maybe, but it’s more likely that you enjoyed the welcoming host, attentive waiter, and positive experience you had there. Starbucks is a great example. Even with thick competition, they deliver consistent service and quality products to customers, whether in Oregon or London. And they do this by providing competitive wages and benefits to their
employees along with training and learning opportunities. Employees who are knowledgeable and excited about what they are offering pass their enthusiasm on to customers.
OWN UP TO MISTAKES. Even the best businesses make mistakes. When it happens, own up to it. There’s probably been a time when you put in your order at a restaurant, only to receive the wrong thing. How did the business handle it? Did they admit their mistake and offer you a new meal? How a business treats customers when things don’t
go smoothly is a good indication of how they’ll handle adversity in general, and that reaction starts with employees. Set the precedent for employees that a mistake is their opportunity to go above and beyond.
A transparent environment will make employees feel more comfortable, which
will make customers excited, rather than
apprehensive, to engage with your business again.
Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal? Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product was sold at within three months prior to the ad. “Families today … are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,” said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. “They deserve to make an informed decision.” After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again. Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had on Black Friday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise. FAKE DISCOUNTS AND ANGRY SHOPPERS A MASSIVE BLACK FRIDAY LAWSUIT
Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday — the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items — but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history. In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called “false reference pricing,” a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item to make a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing machine at a “sale price” of $999.99, compared to a “regular price” of $1,179.99. The problem was the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale.
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