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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two Cowboys: Customer Reviews Are the Moments That Define Us in Rock Creek, British Columbia

Important Moments


I've discovered something real about life:

"Today is for the living. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a dream."

Our lives have profoundly essential moments that are strung together to ultimately define who we are and what we become. When these moments occur, the consequences often elude us until much later.

Customer feedback, in the form of an Online Customer Review, is one of these crucial moments in a business' life.

When something happens, we do not immediately grasp the importance nor its significance. We struggle through events that are painful. Happy moments encourage us. Years later, when we look back and recognize pivotable events, then we appreciate what it did for, in, and to our lives.

When one is young, a future fear accompanies each event - a fear of consequence. "Will it take me closer to my dream? Is it good for my career? Will it disrupt my business? Will I lose out on the opportunity? Maybe, I need to dream more and try a little harder."

As you get older, it is less about the consequences and more about the loss of an opportunity. The dreaded "if only" looms closer and closer when you realize that tomorrow is coming faster than you can dream and yesterday's memories are only a blur. The older you get, the more you appreciate how precious each moment is. You become more conscious of with whom you choose to spend it.

Here in lies the lesson. It is not the moments that define us as much as it is how we rise to deal with them. This sets the course for our lives. 

Choose Well


There are really only two choices. Moments happen to us, or we choose to create and rise up to meet them. Life is either a current that overwhelms and drags one along or a wave one accepts and rides.

Like it or not, our lives are impacted daily by the people around us. And this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Our family, co-workers, customers and businesses, are constants in our lives and defines who we are. We impact them and they have an influence on us.

If we mistreat them, the consequence is likely to be negative. If we support and encourage our customers, we will likely be better off.

Ultimately, we are a social species. Our livelihood depends on the way we treat others and the way we choose to see the world. It is good advice when parents teach their children to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Where Should I Spend My Dollar?


The Two Cowboys also get to decide, consciously or unconsciously, with who we do business and which people we allow into our moments. We recognize that it is a decision that doesn't nearly get the amount of attention it deserves. When we support a business, do they return the favour? When we get feedback, what do we do with it?

Our dollar for the coffee, the tenner for a steak, the oil change, or the more-than-half-our-paycheck we hand over in taxes and interest payments are all crucial decisions we should be making, aware of its consequences because it has a profound impact on our livelihood, and our daily lives.

For the business or government that gets our money and attention, it may be just another transaction - a drop in the day's ocean. For us, personally, it is much more profound. Our money and our time (our most precious commodity) are involved. For us, and many other customers it is a big deal!

The question that needs answering is, "To who does it matter more?". As consumers, we should not only make the decision with more intent, but we should be much more vocal and transparent about it. As a business, we can waste an opportunity engaging with someone that won't return the favour.

We are encouraging every customer to step up and become more visible and vocal about why they choose to deal with business A or B, or why they decided not to. Post reviews. Also, when a government spends your money, you should hold them much more accountable. Express your approval or disapproval. Don't wait for an election or fear retribution. If you don't tell them immediately, you are already a victim.

The Imbalance


We've come to develop a new appreciation for, and are now advocating "vocal 'activist' consumerism".

Our money and our time matter much to us. We want to spend it with people that value us. It should matter equally to those that get it. That is why we relish sharing our experiences in online reviews with the world regardless of the size of business with which we engage. Having a choice is no longer enough. We've found it even more liberating proclaiming our favourite and sharing our displeasure, and there are more and more people like us.

We want you, the business owner, to consider the significance of something as simple as an online customer review. Someone not only spent their time and money with you and had either a positive or negative experience but also took time to tell others (and you implicitly) about it - publicly!

Customer Reviews


The tables have turned in the marketplace. There used to be a massive imbalance where a customer or consumer's voice didn't count for much. There wasn't an audience for complaints and compliments like there is now in the online world. Gone are the days of a "complaints department" or "customer service" counter.

With the Internet, customer experiences are "democratized". Everyone has a say and a vote! Every voice has the potential to count, and some count for a lot more than many businesses would expect or like to recognize. One image, a video clip, one Google rating, a sentence, has the potential to make or break national brands! It does the same for a small obscure niche local business.

The consequences for businesses are profound, yet very simple. Treat every customer with the dignity and dedication they are entitled to, given that they too chose to spend their precious dollars and time with you. Ignore them at your peril. Know that your livelihood is in play.

Celebrate the positives. Respond to the negatives. Interact. Please, don't ignore feedback. It is an opportunity and a gift when someone wants to talk to you about your product or business. Don't delegate your social media interactions to a nitwit that only "handles" customer interactions. You are the nitwit for allowing a less-than-capable person to interact with your customers and do it publicly. If Elon Musk and Donald Trump have time to talk directly to their customers and the American people, what makes you so special that you can entrust it to an unqualified social media or marketing "underling".

Don't dismiss critical feedback. Good news travels fast. Bad news, travels even faster. The best advice we can give entrepreneurs and business owners out there is to be truthful, authentic, call out issues but stay vigilant and engage. Be part of the conversation and in the discussion. The worst thing that can happen is when you are left out of it. When people talk about you, instead of with you.

You cannot please everyone. However, make sure you satisfy the right ones. Especially, those with a platform that showcases businesses, and garners large public online followings. Their opinions tend to matter more than others.

Choose the opportunity, respect the customer, and build a relationship. It is a crucial moment.

Customer service is no longer optional. It is what you do as a business in a connected, always on, public world.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Feedback Cowboy

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