During the blizzard of 2014 one of our team members had to spend part of their weekend in a local health care facility. Unfortunately, the blizzard didn’t decide to stop for them so they had to tread through the horizontal-blowing snow, slick roads, and dark skies to check for strep throat. The good news was that the throat was cleared for strep. The bad news was they almost inadvertently parked in a pile of plowed snow at the entrance.
They saw the signage just fine. Their simple message and instructions lit up the night and funnelled them in as designed.
They had full control of the vehicle. Left, right, brake, accelerate. And for the record, they were attentive when driving.
What they didn’t see the drift piled up by the entrance because on first glance, the entrance only looked like an exit on a single, solid road. It wasn’t till they were driving by the entrance side of the road did they realize the road was divided. They tried to make the turn at the last second.
The snow was piled up over the entrance sign and the overhead light was too dull to shine on the road through the snow. Its wattage was too soft.
After the near miss, they were able to slowly crawl their vehicle into the parking lot and proceed in. From there, the made sure everyone wearing a uniform knew of the issue in great detail.
In a perfect world, a customer sees your sign, drives in with the greatest of ease and walks in the door. Unfortunately, not every business owner can control what happens from the time they see the sign till the time they get to their storefront. Most small businesses have landlords. Others have construction issues to contend with.
The first and most important step is to be proactive. Regardless of who notices first, when a customer / client comes through the door complaining about the logistic issues they endured, make sure they know they have your full attention. Assure them of your knowledge of the situation. Ask to take down their information. Let them know you will sincerely notify those who can make such changes.
The next step is the oft-neglected one: tell those people who can make such changes. Don’t be subtle about it. Keep notes of every customer who comes in to complain. Keep a record of their complaint. Keep track of them all in a list. The more information you have, the more leverage you can use to help get the necessary changes - one way or another.
The optional step is especially good for those whose need environmental changes as controlled by elected government officials: make a game of the issue. Start contests. Give a bonus or percentage off to everyone who uses a keyword when they come in - such as “construction.” Put it on your marketing materials. Have them hashtag it if they check in on a social network such as Facebook or FourSquare to receive the bonus. This way, your clients / customers are aware that you are understanding of their hardship and that you are dealing with it as best as you can. And, if done right, everybody can share a laugh over the situation, thereby making light of the whole thing.
You might not win everyone with the approach. Some folks just don’t like any inconveniences. And it’s not like there’s a law that says your competitors must endure the same environmental or logistical inconveniences at that same time as you go through them. There’s nothing that can be done about that.
The other side of the coin is that by letting the issue go without taking acting, you run the risk over either your customers getting in the habit of driving by the store, making a mental note of the issues it takes to get in your door and remembering to avoid it every time they see the sign. In most cases, the sign is a direct reflection of the brand. Which means, by transitive properties & classical conditioning, those customers start making a mental note to avoid your brand.
Before even the greatest signage in the world are inadequate to help your cause.