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A Problem Isn’t Going to Fix Itself

On New Year’s Eve, I visited a convenience store and noticed a nasty note scrawled on the prepay sticker of the gas pump.  Imagine my surprise when, a month and a half later, I returned to discover that the original note was still there—and a new one had been scrawled on the transaction screen window next to it! 

At that time, I was outraged that someone would deface private property to publicly berate a store for a transgression.  Yet, I was secretly delighted that a real-life scenario had presented itself regarding the importance of brand perception and what NOT to do when a problem arises at your place of business. 

Imagine how many hundreds, or even thousands, of customers saw these notes during this time period.  What impression did they leave in the minds of customers? 

Here are some conclusions I came up with in my own mind:

  • A consistent problem was obviously driving at least one customer nuts, and the store wasn’t taking proper measures to do something to fix it.
  • The store’s personnel don’t make enough trips out to the pumps to properly maintain them.  After all, the sticker with the offending message could easily be replaced.  It’s also not too difficult to check whether the paper supply is getting low on a regular basis—and replace it if it is.
  • This store doesn’t care what its customers think about them.
  • This store doesn’t understand how customer perception can affect their business. 

It’s certainly not a stretch to imagine that their customers also had some of the same ideas! 

If you operate a consumer-facing business (c-store or not), I encourage you to always fix problems when they occur, because they’re not going to fix themselves.  Ignoring them may lead to additional problems that could affect how customers perceive your brand.  And that perception could ultimately affect your sales.  Hopefully you won’t encounter an unruly customer who defaces your property to file a complaint, but if it does happen to you, you know what to do. 

I am curious to visit this store again after another period of time to see if anything has yet been done.  Somehow, I have my doubts.  After all, this location inspired another one of my posts (A Stinky Inconvenience) a couple of years ago—and it has still been hit or miss on whether their hand sanitizer dispensers have product in them.  

I’ll keep you posted on what I find! 


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