3 ways you may be destroying your business | TravelResearchOnline

3 ways you may be destroying your business

Over the past few weeks I have had the misfortune of being the victim of poor customer service. And it might be attributed to a stressful week, but I have sworn off three companies this week and have vowed to never do business with them again.  The screw ups were not even that severe, but they were the victim of unfortunate timing. It was a stressful week and I am usually pretty forgiving by nature, but this week—not so much. So what did they do to lose my business?

Miss Your Deadline

I needed to buy a new outfit for a speaking engagement later this month and had the need (desire) to wear it earlier this week. I purchased the suit two weeks ago, had the fitting, and was promised the alterations would be complete well before the party where I intended to wear it.  Well, when I went to pick it up on the date they told me it would be ready, it wasn’t. I explained that I needed it for an event and they did not care. I suggested that they take it to a different tailor for the alterations. They were having none of that. I told them to cancel it. They said no. I called my credit card company. They said yes.  Normally, this would not have been a problem. But when they refused to acknowledge it, and then proceeded to show indifference to my plight—game on! If you make a commitment—keep it. And if you can’t, make sure you communicate with your client.

Be Argumentative

We all have heard the axiom, “the customer is always right.” And we all know that it is BS—often they are wrong. But even if they are wrong, it is never a good thing to argue with them. This latest dust up was over a $5 fast food meal. I was in an “unnamed fast food joint” and ordered a double cheeseburger meal with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, french fries and a coke. A simple request. I sat down and opened my spicy chicken with ketchup, lettuce, and onions. So, I head back to the counter thinking they may have confused the order. I was informed that they did not make a mistake and that is exactly what I ordered. When I explained that when I crave burgers, I don’t order chicken; she told me “well you must have this time because that’s what you said.” I politely asked for my money back and she refused. I asked to speak to a manager and when I explained the situation, the employee kept chiming in on how wrong I was. The manager did nothing to quell the employee and did suggest a complimentary meal, but I was no longer in the mood and he did give me the money back.  But I will never go back to that particular location again.

Avoid The Inevitable

And to round out the trifecta of poor service, I hired someone to do some work for me. The scope of the project was well defined, I did not change the scope, we agreed that my timeline was more than reasonable. Part of the money was paid upfront. Part of the work was complete. And then he disappeared from the face of the earth. He did not show up, answer his phone, or return any emails for over a week. When I finally did catch up with him, the best he could come up with was, “I was busy.” Hey, I am busy as well and understand; but simply answering a phone call or returning an email would have solved the situation. He is literally in the middle of the project now and there is no way to change horses mid stream, but you can be sure he will not be hired again—or recommended.

None of these experiences had anything to do with travel, but I can see the parallels and to be honest, I can see me making those same mistakes. This was a wakeup call for me.  If a clothing store, a fast food place, and a contractor can lose a client for their shortcomings, how easy is it for me to lose a client for the same shortcomings?

Have you ever promised a client to have a quote/document/information by a certain date and missed it with no explanation? I have. Have you ever made the decision that the client is wrong and become argumentative? I may have, but I still think I was right—and I did lose that client (and likely anyone he wanted to talk to about me). Have you ever avoided the inevitable task of informing a client that the price went up or the cruise lines reinstated fuel surcharges?  I have.

We cannot control the customer’s psyche. Therefore we need to bring our “A Game” to the table every single day. Clients will not always be right, you will miss a deadline, and you may even pick a fight, but your success will depend on how you recover from it. Like me, I think most people are pretty forgiving to a point as long as they are kept informed. And of course using those two magic words, “I’m sorry”, never hurts either.

  6 thoughts on “3 ways you may be destroying your business

  1. Tracee says:

    As always, such great advice! Could you see me cringing when you asked about promises made, yet not lived up to. Guilty!

    Thanks for the insight. I know this week will be better!

  2. Big Picture says:

    You are right that one bad incident is all it takes to lose customers. Unfortunately it is also a fact that some of the biggest and hard to believe most successful companies lack customer service care. Some companies believe that when their product is unique and in need and a good price, they don’t need to bend over backwards or make exceptions. This is especially prevalent in the tech industry where you see a flood of complaints from consumers about phone and cable companies or manufacturers of electronics. Or how about the airline industry like Ryan Air and Spirit – they don’t care for customer service as much but they still stay competitive with others. There have been lots of studies that some companies believe don’t sacrifice revenue or give in to the consumer and if you lose those customers big deal – and ultimately this doesn’t affect their bottom line and they are right. Spirit’s CEO trumpets this philosophy of you don’t like us then leave us. I don’t like this thinking, but it’s sad that it’s true customer service doesn’t always matter if price/uniqueness/other factors are there. All I can suggest is don’t do business with bad philosophy companies, but instances like with fast food should be looked in the big picture. One employee and one manager don’t represent the whole chain. And it would be your loss if you stopped eating there because of 2 people out of millions of employees worldwide. The manager did also make amends. If you got no response from the manager and corporate support also said too bad then you would have an issue with their fundamentals. Just food for thought [pardon the pun]!

  3. Fish says:

    If customer service was important to todays consumer I believe the internet would not have created such a large distribution in all kinds of areas including travel. People have lowered their expectations of service as more and more products/services have removed to the internet. Once we tolerate then we begin to accept it as the norm.

  4. Mardi says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. You made beautiful points that I can personally relate to. I have lost a client due to my lack of “customer service”. Not intentionally, but all the same it is one less client.

    Imagine if all the companies who had poor customer service kept losing customers. They may re-consider their stance on what customer service means. Not that the customer is always right, but the customer does deserve to be served properly if there is an error or omission.

    Fish is correct, we as customers, have indeed lowered our expectations of what good customer service should be.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  5. Judith says:

    I believe that a negative corporate attitude about customer service does effect sales and that any company (like Spirit and Ryan) who doesn’t care, will eventually find themselves out of business.

    After having had a terrible experience with Spirit, I’ve warned everyone I know, including clients, not to use them for any reason. Time will take care of them.

  6. Edward says:

    I have never been one to tolerate poor customer service. I am finding that more and more places have little or no customer service skills. It is like the customer is an annoyance and a pain. For those organizations I may give them a second chance just to see if this is the norm for that company. If I get the same treatment a second time, then they have lost my business and my recommendation to that company.
    I have been in the travel business now for a year and in that year I have learned that I am sometimes no better than those I complain about. I know for me I am learning customer skills. I want to be polite and treat my customers with respect even when they do not expect it. I am slowly learning to treat my customers as I would like to be treated.
    Do I have it all down pat and perfect, no way, I still mess up. I just look at each mess up and learn from it. I look at each customer to see what I can learn from them. Their desires, their frustrations how can I help them.
    I may not be super successful right now but I know with time I will be. Why? Because I am working to treat my customers as I would like to be treated with respect and with a professional attitude.

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