You don’t know what you don’t know

I swear to y’all, this has been my face for the past few weeks.

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I recently found myself in the weeds not once, but twice, thanks to some mega bad communications.

I visited my local wine shop near my job after work, only to find a handwritten sign on the door indicating that they were closed. Permanently.

Now, this wasn’t just a small mom-and-pop shop. This was, like, a warehouse of wine. Wall-to-wall shelves of wine, a magnificent tasting bar in the corner, and (until that day) great customer service from friendly, knowledgable folks.

What made this odd was that I’d visited the shop the week before and heard nothing about a potential closure. In fact, this shop doled out frequent shopper discounts for the upcoming week – and I had one ready to spend.

Additionally, the shop sent out a weekly newsletter, and I’d seen nothing even related to a store closing — until I got home that night.

The newsletter said that the company could no longer afford the rent and decided to reopen later this fall in a new location to be determined. Effective Sept. 21, it continued, our doors are closed.

They sent a closure announcement the same day of the closure.

It seems unlikely this giant wine shop wouldn’t have been in talks to close prior to this same-day notice. Why didn’t they mention any of this when they gave me a coupon to come see them again seven days later? And what happens to my frequent shopper rewards when they do reopen? Do they still exist? Am I starting from zero again?

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A few days later, I came home to my apartment to find a flyer stuck in my door. Apparently, my apartment community was being bought out by another company. This was just as surprising as the wine debacle, seeing as my previous apartment owner also sent out a weekly newsletter that never mentioned any talk of a buyout, who the potential buyers were, nothing! 

On top of that, were the original staffers still staying on? What would happen to the multiple complaints I’d made about my rowdy neighbors who sound like they launch bowling balls at the wall at 1 a.m.? Do my previous service requests still exist anywhere?

But hey, great to know there’s an end-of-summer pool party happening soon. Thanks, Newsletter!

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It’s super easy to get caught up in our own lives and crazy circumstances. But if you’re changing the services your clients have always known, it’s best to let ’em know.

Sometimes it’s just as helpful to tell your customers about the small stuff, too. You might not think it’s a big deal to talk about your new administrative assistant. It’s an internal move, right?

But if you have someone who calls your office every week in search of resources and your previous admin had built a rapport with that caller over time, the change might be more jarring than you think.

The little things make a difference. Transparency makes a difference. These four steps will get you started:

  • Keep your contact page current with phone numbers and email addresses that connect folks to the right departments. The more contact info you have, the better!
  • Look from the outside in. Have you ever tried to use your website or call your office? How difficult is it? Every extra step a customer takes to reach you is another opportunity for them to walk away.
  • Be proactive. Surprises aren’t always fun. If you know something is coming down the pike, say so!
  • Own the bad stuff. No one likes bad news, but your current and prospective clients deserve transparency when you screw up.

Be the kind of organization that you’d want to work with. Your customers will thank you for it!

 

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