I was in the checkout lane at the local national-chain supermarket when the guy bagging my groceries asked:
Have you been to the new store yet?
The store in question is a new, smaller, independently-owned grocery store that opened in town just last week.
When I told him I had not yet visited the new store, he quickly blurted:
Well, everything I’ve heard is bad. It’s not what people thought it would be.
I took my receipt, grabbed my bags, and left feeling frustrated.
How many people had been through his checkout lane that day? How many customers endured his unsolicited slam of the new competition?
Maybe he thought he was being a loyal employee. Perhaps he thought he was providing a service to the public.
Either way, he was wrong.
What he DID do, unwittingly, was sour my opinion of him, his supervisors, and his store.
Do you know what your employees are saying to your customers? Are they publicly trashing the other players in your business category? Are they making you and your business look petty and petulant?
It starts from the top down. It’s based on your company’s goals and values.
Do you have policies and guidelines in place for employee conduct? Do they know what they should and should never say to a customer?
Here’s a crash course:
If you’re the big fish in the pond, don’t acknowledge the smaller fish. There’s a chance the people don’t even KNOW about your competition. Badmouthing the little guys redirects the spotlight and informs your customers that there are other options.
If you’re a small fish, don’t waste your limited time, money, and resources bashing the big fish. Instead, tell the story of what sets you apart from the big boys. Better yet, show them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy groceries.
Wanna guess where I’m going?