Debenhams or Arkwrights corner store – who would you rather be?

I personally love to support our independent businesses but sometimes you have to admit that the big businesses got that way because they are good at business!

One of the things big businesses do is to try to make it as convenient as possible for the customer to buy from them wherever they happen to be. That is why our high streets in England are so interchangeable. Debenhams doesn’t say ‘you have to come to London to buy from us’. Instead they make sure that they have a presence in as many locations as possible so it is easy and convenient for potential customers to walk through their doors.

Compare this to the experience I had a couple of days ago in a small independent retailers that I had never been in before. As I was selecting my purchase I could hear the woman serving another customer and complaining bitterly about a shop nearby she felt was taking her trade. I assumed the she was serving was a regular who may have instigated the topic, until it was my turn to be served and she dealt the same cold dish of resentful victimhood to me, a customer she had never laid eyes on!

Needless to say I won’t be using her shop again.

As a business person using social media I am always aware that what I do and say affects people’s perception of me, and therefore the chances of them doing business with me. This is true whether it’s a tweet, a blog, a post on a LinkedIn discussion, a YouTube video, a comment on someone else’s post or even a check-in / recommendation on four square or get glue.

Sometimes I almost forget this, and feel like making comments that show I’m irritated by something someone may have done or written. Or which are unnecessarily combative or argumentative in nature, or condescending and patronising.

In fact appearing to be patronising is one of my biggest worries as it is something I have done unintentionally on several occasions!

Then I remember that the ‘customer’ may not always be right, but he or she is always a human being trying to make their way in the world just like I am, so I try to see things from their point of view.

I’m not saying that we should not get on our soapbox, there is nothing more dear to me than free speech and I love the way the Internet has democratised this.

Nor am I saying that we should try to be something we’re not, far from it, we all have the capacity to be gracious and sympathetic so why not show those qualities to our colleagues and customers? We may find ourselves happier and wealthier as a result.

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About GemLThompson

Gemma Thompson is the author of the best-selling “The British Book of Social Media Marketing”. She is a full time social media consultant and loves helping businesses grow. When she’s not working she can often be found watching Dr Who with her teenage daughter or indulging in a spot of inept D.I.Y (but no, she still hasn’t managed to make her house bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!)
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