Today I was cleaning up some old notes, and I found an email I had sent to a then head of a business association a few years ago now. Why I had contacted them was over an experience at one of their member businesses, and subsequently how I was treated when they didn’t like my opinion.
I am not naming either the business association or the business. It’s not because I am afraid of the business or afraid of the blowback, I simply feel they do not deserve the specific attention. But it got me thinking, so I’m writing.
A few years ago I visited a local business. It was a mixed bag experience. After my visit, I commented in a local social media group that there were some good things, and not so great things about my visit, but perhaps after being open longer it would improve. I also mentioned I preferred another business better.
That was just my opinion. It was hardly a hard slam that this was the worst business on the face of the earth ever. It certainly wasn’t the worst thing said about it back then, either.
What happened next was completely unacceptable. The business owner completely flipped out, and essentially tarred and feathered and scarlet lettered me as an individual and local resident on social media channels.
At the time, the literal harassing of me as just a regular person who had gone in there went on for weeks. I will note I actually called the business and spoke to a female employee who seemed somewhat upset to hear how I’d been treated. This employee said they would pass this along to the owner or other managers (I’m not really quite sure who), but needless to say, I never heard from them.
While this was all occurring back then, I reached out to the then business association president serving that area. I never received the courtesy of a reply. And some in my family had been customers of their business once upon a time, so I was not simply unknown.
The only thing that actually came of my reaching out was the business association person unfriended me on social media, which actually only made me laugh out loud because it was so ridiculous.
Again, I wasn’t ever seeking compensation for my treatment. An apology would have been nice and sufficed for their complete and utter overreaction but that never happened, so I simply decided I wasn’t going to go there ever again.
What I’ve never discussed before, is when I contacted the business association I not only told him my experience with their member business, but I offered them constructive helpful. Suggestions on how to not have this repeat. I figured that was being a good supporter of a local business association and other businesses to say “Hey look, here’s a simple thought. Why don’t you contemplate XYZ?” What I suggested wasn’t rude, it was actually just common sense and manners.
What I suggested to the business association wouldn’t have cost anyone any money. It was simply placing the seed of a simple concept: how to not react inappropriately with a sledge hammer when a customer was not happy. And I know I wasn’t off-base, because I know for a fact, specific businesses I patronize who practice these principles constantly, even when they would be well within their rights to say “Hey, you’re a jerk go pound sand!”
Bad behavior by business owners in a local community, isn’t conducive to good community relations. It’s pretty much simple. People might move on from incidents like this, but they aren’t ever really forgotten.
Another example would be a local business I love today, but they have as an employee, someone who used to have a local business with whom I had a very unpleasant experience. I would truly patronize this business more, but I never know when that person is going to be on their premises as their employee and I just don’t want to deal with it.
As the years have gone by. I have continued to patronize the businesses in this one area that I like, and in some cases love, but I no longer support the business association events and I do not go out of my way to tell people they should check out the events or the area. Needless to say, I have not referred a single person to the offending business in particular, nor have I ever stepped foot in the door again.
My not patronizing one business, attending events, or suggesting that business to others doesn’t matter to that particular business. And that’s fine. I don’t really care. It was a personal decision. I did what was best for me. If as a customer, you can’t expect basic common courtesy, then there are other businesses waiting for you to explore and discover that you will like better.
The funny thing is, I had kind of forgotten for the most part this particular business exists. And then, at the end of the year I was invited to some event being held there. I would have liked to have supported this event, but I told my friend I just couldn’t possibly go into that business. They asked why. They hadn’t known about anything that had occurred there with regard to me so I told them. They were kind of appalled.
If I had never had this experience, I probably would have given them a second chance again after all of this time. And that is the take away here to small businesses everywhere, especially in an economy like this where inflation often dictates the amount of fun that people are willing to go out and pay for. Losing customers or potential customers for the sake of ego does matter. Maybe it won’t matter today, maybe it won’t matter tomorrow, but eventually it will matter.
What this business in particular did to me, was seen by anyone who cared to look. You had the proverbial Coliseum spectators cheering on the lion, ripping the gladiators apart, and then you had the everyday people to whom this gave serious pause. A lot of businesses with often false bravado will say they don’t care, but they should care.
I have many friends who owns small businesses. And these people agonize when someone doesn’t have a great experience. These caring businesses go back and they examine, and they think how can they do better? Of course, this is why many of these businesses have been in business for so long.
The funny thing is, I don’t write about all of my experiences visiting places, good bad, or indifferent. For the most part, I will only share the positive ones and when I share something it is from the perspective of a customer who did not expect anything and who is not asking for anything.
When I write here, it is as a non-compensated blogger. I love to share things that I find, especially when they absolutely delight me. And yes, I do share the not so delightful experiences at times, but not all of them. And to me, customer service matters a great deal.
Related is what also always cracks me up: how some of the self righteous always seem to hold me to a higher standard than anyone else. Even if traditional regular media has written about something I wrote about, they are not raked over the coals, they are not judged harshly. That is all saved for me. I still don’t really know why, and I can’t psychoanalyze all of the people who seem to think that how they have the life mission and divine authority to be judge, jury, and executioner.
Anyway, I was just thinking about these things and decided to share.