How To Win Back A Reputation And Client Base
With few exceptions, brilliant companies are built on a great reputation. A growing base of adoring fans and happy customers spreading the word negates the need for excessive marketing spend. It also serves to increase sales, profit and all other metrics and means your business easily overtakes competitors along the way. If every happy customer tells 100 more, it doesn’t take many to build an empire.
But what if it’s the other way around? How do you turn around a sinking ship that has left customers dissatisfied for years? It’s a daunting task for any business owner, and that’s exactly the challenge Aleksandra Waibel and Kat Sallam faced when they took over a failed company with a terrible reputation. When they took control of Illinois’ Skinovatio Medical Spa, it was making $16,000 a month in sales, with an average Google and Yelp rating of one star, and many people said they wished they had rated zero.
Within two years, they flipped the business and transitioned it to a franchise model, now with eight locations, many of which came as inbound leads. The duo’s top franchises make between $70,000 and $120 per month, with an average Google rating of 4.7 stars, with Yelp and Groupon averaging 4.5 stars. After learning from the trenches, Waibel and Sallam share their seven steps to regaining a good reputation and customer base.
With no solid foundation to build on, Waibel and Sallam affectionately dubbed the first step Operation Dishwashing and went straight back to basics. “First we had to keep the remaining customers and prevent them from wanting to go elsewhere. Then we had to win back the trust of the customers who left and didn’t want to come back. In addition, we have been working on acquiring new customers.”
This is no easy feat when the ratings are stacked against you. “We started with a focus on quality from the start.” They focused on hiring more qualified and experienced doctors before going through their entire CRM, personally calling each patient and offering them heavily discounted or free treatments in exchange for another chance .
Humility paid off when customers returned, not knowing what to expect and pleasantly surprised at the improvement in service quality. Is your main offering worthy of 5 stars, and how could you do it?
Create new processes
Trying to convert their brand haters into loyal fans, the owners focused on processing. The team were trained in the friendliest customs of hospitality, making sure every step was followed every time.
“We made sure that every team member greeted each patient by name and created a professional yet warm and welcoming atmosphere.” Waibel and Sallam “shook hands with clients, introduced us personally and explained any changes that happened after our acquisition took place before they asked for their feedback,” Waibel said. They added processes previously missing from the company, including follow-up surveys, reminder automations, and courtesy calls.
There is credit in admitting that you have made mistakes in the past, but you are changing that for your customers in the future. Give us a warm welcome and keep in touch to show you care; Customer Service Basics They’ll Never Forget.
Update the technology
Improving the quality of your core offering and processes is fundamental, but removing as much friction for customers as possible is crucial. Waibel and Sallam had inherited a website and database that would not serve them well for onward travel, not least because the booking system was not integrated.
“We’ve made major upgrades,” explains Waibel. “We created a new user-friendly website and hired a marketing team focused on social media. We upgraded all of our technology and added new devices that enabled new services.” They also made it easier for their customers to book, buy and recommend with a new customer portal, and they began offering financing options and a membership program through which they could offer special offers.
Once people want to buy, make it easy for them. When you remove friction for your customers, they slide to purchase easier than ever. A seamless experience gives customers the peace of mind that you are in control of all their business processes.
Collect new testimonials
The first three steps will enable your business to provide a much better service to its customers. By now, sentiment towards your company should be improving. Now is the time to correct those negative reviews and discourage potential new customers.
Waibel and Sallam capitalized on the positive feedback they were now receiving from their customer base. They made sure that every testimonial served to attract new customers. A simple but effective strategy that should not be overlooked, especially during a turnaround operation.
“Our social media team asked satisfied customers for video testimonials, which were later shared on our social media. They also took professional photos of our location, treatments and client outcomes to share on our website and booking channels.” By doing this in 2015, the company has put themselves at the forefront of aesthetics, which, as you know, was a good move.
Share the good news with others to attract new customers. Social proof is a powerful influencer, so don’t miss out on the reviews circulating online by having a team on hand to capture them.
Focus on relationships
Customer relationships make up 80% of the puzzle in building a successful business, but supplier and partner relationships make up a large part of the rest. Once satisfied with the quality of their service and the way customers were being served by the system, Waibel and Sallam looked at their other important relationships. They thought that by partnering with other trusted companies, potential customers would also trust their brand.
Waibel and Sallam not only benefited from the good reputation of their partners, but also gained early access to new products. “By placing larger orders, we received free or discounted products, the savings of which we passed on to our customers.” With confidence in our suppliers, “we held events at the clinic so our customers could try new services for free.”
How can you work with companies that your dream clients already trust? Social proof is important, and a strong referral network helps potential customers understand that you’re the one. Look for ways to do the same.
To keep getting positive reviews, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and provide a truly great service. Continuously optimizing and improving your product or service is a way to keep customers happy and coming back.
Waibel and Sallam see this as critical to any turnaround operation. In their case, the aesthetics industry was making strides and they didn’t want to be left behind. Instead of resting, the team pressed on to make further improvements. “We attended several seminars to ensure we were learning from the best in this industry,” Waibel said. They also met more practitioners who could refer them and recommend them to further expand their network.
never stop learning Taking a turnaround business to new heights requires you to set out, try new things, and not be afraid to fail.
Go the extra mile
Even if you think you’ve done everything you can, you’ll reap the benefits your competitors just don’t see by going that extra mile. In Waibel’s case, this came in the form of requests from aspiring franchisees who were so impressed with their business that they wanted to open their own.
“We took it a step further by treating strangers like family. We baked homemade muffins and never let anyone leave our practice hungry; it’s all part of our Polish hospitality!” Over freshly brewed coffee and a gooey chocolate chip cookie, Waibel’s team members engaged in conversations with patients, understood more about their lives, and became an integral part of their week. Especially before invasive or needle-based treatments, those little touches would unnerve and allow her clients to relax.
Creating a friendly atmosphere is often more than just a smile. Going the extra mile means taking additional steps to ensure your customers have a relaxing time.
From zero to heroes: no short-term solution
Waibel and Sallam know it’s not an easy road, and those who expect short-term gains needn’t apply. “Many of these changes required investments. For many years we put money right back into the business instead of paying ourselves, a sacrifice we were willing to make because we could see the long-term vision.” Put the work in at the beginning, build from there up and get to a position of thanking your former self for doing what was required.
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