I have to admit he’s funny, but I do find British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson a bit of an over-grown larrikin. I’m talking about his TV program Top Gear especially. Along with the less scally-waggish but still-up-for-laughs characters James May and Richard Hammond, these grown men race expensive or clapped out cars at various locations around the world, crash or blow up other cars and indulge in a whole lot of other questionable gags all in the name of ratings and entertainment.
I did enjoy his car reviews though that used to run in a local Sunday newspaper. Clarkson can spin as good a yarn as he can cars and not surprisingly the format for his articles was unconventional. He would launch into his spiel – on anything other than cars and mostly about life in general – stay with that three quarters of the way through, then finally bring in the topic he was paid to write about.
I’m not sure serious car lovers would appreciate his story model. They’d probably want more detail on the vehicle of the week, but being non-plussed about steel on wheels myself, the format suited me just fine.
Why? Because like just about everybody else, I love a good story, especially about people. Discovering the human interest angle, what makes others tick, basically what spins their wheels. Maybe it’s something to do with being a perennial student of life.
When I started blogging for other business owners, I realised I’d have to blog for myself too. Crickey! What on earth would I write about and how would I write it? Thanks Jeremy, I’m borrowing your style. Then realising that a blog on blogging could be boring, I went back to basics and pondered their purpose.
Essentially, they’re an effective, popular means of communication between business owners and customers; they strengthen that relationship, inform and entertain. Kind of like a friendly fireside chat without the fireside. And taking it broader, successful communication is key to running a successful business.
I’ve witnessed a couple of incidents lately where communication – or lack of it – has gone badly wrong for a couple of businesses; involving two customers buying wine by the glass in gastro pubs. In both cases, the customers didn’t check the price list and when it came time to pay, they were so angry about being charged what they thought were phenomenally ridiculous prices for one glass of vino, that they both spat the cork in front of other customers at both of the venues. Not a good look.
In one East Auckland bar a large glass of quality Central Otago Rosé cost one of these punters $23. The customer didn’t check the price before ordering, and when he went to pay the dinner bill at the counter and looked over the charges, he nearly had a heart attack. I do not jest – this guy already has a bad heart.
And he was really grumpy. “That’s ridiculous,” he said, when the manager explained the bill. His parting shot in front of about 10 other customers: “You won’t see me back here.”
Not wanting to sound like I do this all the time, but in another bar up north a couple of months back a similar thing happened. Another friend walked up to the bar and asked for a “glass of red”. (Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it, but no.)
I did think my buddy was pretty relaxed, leaving it to the bar staff to select his wine but having just bought a nice (small) glass of chilled rosé myself, I left him to it and joined our group.
When he arrived at the table with a huge pour of pinot noir, his face nearly matched the colour of his top shelf bevvy. “26 bucks for a glass of red! I wouldn’t even buy a bottle for that!” We commiserated, then one friend suggested he should have specified glass size and wine variety when he ordered. True.
Despite the buyer beware motto though, I think in both cases the question of ethics comes in, plus good old common sense and customer service. If bar staff suspect that a customer might splutter at paying $26 for one glass of wine, that it might leave a bad taste on the palate, wouldn’t it be wise to check that before pouring?
That’s better than having grumpy customers swear they’ll never be back to your café, in front of an audience, or having them vent on the local Facebook page about feeling duped by their neighbourhood bar.
Better communication could have avoided these scenes. Surely café owners and hospitality staff want repeat business. Annoying customers and fuelling potential negative word-of-mouth dramas that can damage a business long after the initial incident, just isn’t smart thinking.
Perhaps business owners could check out similar potential hot spots in their own business; whether any aspects of their business offering and especially its delivery by staff, could annoy customers. Annoyed customers are costly in more ways than one and might even drive some business owners to drink, from very large glasses too, and that’s a sobering thought.
It’s much better to have positive stories swirling around your business, and remember, research reveals that companies that blog are not only more successful, they're happier too.
Time to get your blog finally under way?
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