The Bad-Breath Syndrome

When it comes to having bad breath no one knows they have it unless someone else tells them. Bad breath can happen in your business. And, it’s hard to know you have it unless someone else tells you.

Bad breathe — bad word of mouth advertising will always destroy any good advertising. This is what I call having the bad breath syndrome in your business. Unfortunately, great marketing will never override bad word of mouth.

No amount of good advertising will convert into more customers if people have poor experiences with your business. You need to separate the two.

It’s important to incorporate improving customer experience as a part of your marketing plan, but first you have to find out where there’s bad breath.

The First Time I Discovered I Had “Bad Breath”

When I was a new business owner, I asked one of my long time customers named Joyce, to give me her feedback on a full-page ad I was running for the performing arts center I owned at the time because I thought I should have been getting more customers from it.

I was taken by surprise at her remark. Joyce told me bluntly, “Yoon, it’s not your ad. It’s your bathrooms.”

What? I asked in disbelief. What are you talking about? How are my bathrooms hurting my sales? I asked in total confusion. I have those bathrooms cleaned every week.

She went on to explain they get used everyday by hundreds of people. When they see dust bunnies on the baseboards and trash cans full the bathrooms are what mothers (who are the customers) talk about.

Not being a mom yet at the time, I remember getting angry inside listening to Joyce’s decision criteria. That’s not what you should care about! I objected, saying things like,

“But, we have world renown faculty, you won’t get at any other school! We have the largest facility. We are the only one stop shop for families. We are the only school who answers the phone every day. We have the best customer service!”

Once my pride finally melted, I realized it didn’t matter if I disagreed with her decision criteria. If sparkling bathrooms would improve their experience with my business, it seemed a no-brainer to just fix the problem.

That day I learned you’ve got to see your business through your customers’ eyes, not your own.

“What you see depends on what you’re looking for.”
-Anonymous

ACTION STEP: Ask your customers / clients what would improve their experience with your business. Then, listen to your customers and fix the problem.

QUESTION: What ways do you use to discover poor customer experiences with your business? Share your tips and comments below.

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