We ran across an interesting article on Bloomberg Business Week titled Manage Brand Fanatics and Brand Detractors that began with the question "What causes customers to fall in love with a small business or to hate it?". It started out by discussing problem customers and the rising trend about negative comments about a business that appear on the Internet (it seems with increasing frequency). The article makes the point that some customers are not going to like your business no matter what, but you can listen to their comments and allow your employees to try tom improve the situation. There are a lot of great links to other postings that give even more detail on handling this difficult situation.
The other side of the coin is how you can get customers to love your small business. The article mentions a couple of options and you can check them out. One of the suggestions we really liked is to create an event that happens once a year and make it a really fun event. We have found first hand here at Tacony Corporation that this is can be extremely effective and we have a great example.
One of our strategic business units, Nancy's Notions, had their first Sewing Weekend 25 years ago to celebrate the grand opening of their first official warehouse. 500 people attended, light refreshments were provided, and there was one seminar before the warehouse was opened for shopping. This year Sewing Weekend was from May 6th through the 8th and there were nearly 3,000 attendees. They could choose from 8 educational seminars, 6 hands-on workshops, free stage demonstrations, and more. The warehouse sale is also a very popular part of the event. This is always a successful, exciting, and fun-filled event that our customers appreciate and this is a great example of an event that gets people enthused about Nancy's Notions.