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Growing pains: Great buzz is bringing in the customers, but derailing the customer experience

July 23, 2019

Buzz is like rocket fuel for a business—powerful but dangerous. Few accelerants are better at boosting demand and building a brand, but the volatile nature of buzz can make it a challenge to control and direct.

Much worse, it can backfire when being suddenly busier than ever causes your performance to suffer.

To prepare your business, let’s dive into a few timeless principles and some very handy tools.

1. Assume you’re going to drop the ball and have a plan for picking it up.

Entrepreneurs rarely get far without some fear of failure. Anticipating and planning for slow starts, lean periods, and worst-case scenarios is a given. It’s actually a healthy fear of success that’s typically a blindspot.

Too much too soon can take can take down big, popular, seemingly secure companies. Small businesses with limited resources are even more vulnerable. Restaurants hitting their stride, for example, have to determine how they’re going to keep customers content (and sticking around) when tables are full. But the fundamental considerations apply to any business.

It’s all about balancing expectations and resources.

For example, surging demand can quickly have you low on inventory (or out of favorite items entirely). Plan to get out ahead of it on social media. When you do, don’t just inform your audience, charm them. Can you create a promotion to compensate? From there, definitely source a good inventory management app like Shopventory to improve your ordering and closely track usage for the future.

2. Buzz-proof your location.

You’ve already worked on making your establishment inviting from day one. But have you visualized it packed? Or backed up out the door? The last person in line is more important than the first given that the clock is ticking on their experience and it’s easiest for them to walk away.

Plan for those spillover scenarios in terms of your physical space, anticipating how to adjust beyond your foundational customer experience tactics. Imagine a beautiful, vintage-style ice cream shop the moment it opens. Now imagine it so crammed with people the display counter is out of sight and reach. Does the signage still work? How is the interaction between staff and customers suddenly impaired? Does the flow of people entering and departing still function? Without an orderly and welcoming line system ready for a crowd, what would the inevitable jockeying of customers communicate to people entering that environment?

That’s why you want to reevaluate every customer-touching piece of your location through that lens. For some businesses, the applicable customer experience terrain can stretch pretty far outside their doors—e.g. to sidewalk space for a long line or available parking. You certainly can’t overcome all your limitations but, at a minimum, let customers see that you care enough to work on mitigating their impact.

3. Buzz-proof your team.

Staffing levels and employee training will be even more critical than the optimization of your physical space, though all those elements need to work together. Work closely with your team to make sure they are prepared to adjust and absorb buzz-driven surges before they happen.

Can you arrange to have extra help available on short notice? Can you make sure staffers are comfortable switching roles when needed? Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to figure out the problem areas. That sort of scrambling will inevitably underwhelm customers.

Take advantage of staffing apps that work right from your smartphone, like Homebase’s Schedule and Time Clock, which both integrate seamlessly with Clover. Also, remember that using Clover Flex can allow your staff to process orders for people while they are waiting in line.

4. Use Clover Feedback for constructive customer conversations.

You’re never going to fix every mistake or satisfy every individual. But if you get a reliable feedback system in place and commit to course-correcting around the issues that surface, you’ll be far ahead in terms of diffusing any buzz backlash.

That’s what makes Clover Feedback such a powerful tool. This super-convenient, closed-loop resource lets you find out exactly what customers think about your business while helping to keep negative feedback off public review sites like Yelp or Google. Clover Feedback prints a unique link to your private feedback form on every receipt. From there, you can:

  • Automatically receive the feedback directly in your email inbox and reply when needed.
  • View all of your customer feedback from your Clover Web Dashboard, and connect every customer’s note to an order.
  • Make up for negative feedback with coupon offers.

And it’s worth remembering that outspoken, unfiltered customers are often some of the best business consultants anywhere—at a fraction of the fees.

5. Finally, remember that buzz is a phenomenon, not a strategy.

Fashions fade. Trends change. Buzz dissipates. That’s built into the formula. As consumers, we definitely recognize that the next-best-thing spotlight works better at stimulating curiosity than sustaining loyalty. So if your business hitches a ride on buzz without a plan to reach escape velocity, gravity waits.

What’s the remedy?

Stay focused on your core customer. What they keep returning for is the customer experience foundation you need to honor and amplify most for sustainable growth. Follow those targeting coordinates to your business’s optimum cruising altitude. From there, the sky’s the limit.


Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.