Customer service will kill you. Well, let me be more specific…poor customer service will kill you. I am a patient guy for the most part. I realize that we are all busy and sometimes thing slip through. But sometimes my patience runs thin and any size screw-up can send me off vowing to never shop or patronize a place again. The tough part is knowing when I have had enough. Here are three ways you might be sabotaging your own business. Let me explain.
Miss Your Deadline
Last week I attended a fancy fundraiser for our local hospital. I also needed a new suit, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I bought the suit and arranged for alterations. When the day came to pick it up, they were not done. I had a few days to spare, but they said they would not be done in time. I suggested that they job it out to a local tailor and they refused. I told them to cancel the order for the suit entirely and they said no because it was on sale. I called my credit card company and they said “sure thing, we’ll reverse the charges.” If you make a commitment—keep it. Even the little ones. And when you miss a deadline, don’t ignore it. Own it and communicate what you are doing to remedy the situation.
“The customer is always right.” We’ve heard it for years and to be honest, it is BS—often they are wrong. But even if they are wrong, it is never a good thing to argue with them. Last week, I had a craving for some fast food. I am not going to name the place because that would be indiscrete. So, I ordered my Big Mac meal with no pickles. Paid for the order and headed out to my car. I peeked in the bag and saw a McChicken meal. Figuring they made a mistake, went back in to get my correct meal only to be informed that no, in fact I had ordered a McChicken. Hello? I may have missed asking to hold the pickle. I may have screwed up on some special order condiments; but I sure as hell know the difference between a hamburger and a piece of chicken. Ultimately they did swap it out with a Big Mac that was cooling on the rack and tossed the McChicken in the trash with a huff and a flourish. Guess which fast food place will not be getting my money any longer? Arguing with a client never ends well. You may win the argument, or they may win it. But it is only a battle, and there is a good chance they will win the war. Of course that is not to say you should blindly give up the farm. But avoid outright arguments at all costs.
Avoid The Inevitable
And to round out the trifecta of poor service, I needed some work done in my house. I got a few estimates and selected a contractor. The scope was clear. The materials were clear. I paid 25% up front with 50% upon completion and the balance after approval from the City. He came in on day one and did a bang up job. And then, aliens must have abducted him. 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 mutter was, “I got your messages but I was too busy to call back.” Hey, I am busy too; but simply answering a phone call or returning an email would have solved the situation. Remember, I tend to be very patient. Because we are in the middle of a project, we can’t change horses. But guess what contractor will never be hired by me again, and guess which one will never get a recommendation from me?
None of these experiences had anything to do with travel, but the parallels are there. And, let’s be honest, we are all guilty of one of these at one time or another. I know I am. If a men’s store, a McFastfoodplace, and a contractor can lose a client for their shortcomings, how easy would it be for me to lose a client for a similar 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 become argumentative with a client? I have, and I still think I was right—but I did end up losing his (and likely anyone he spoke to about travel) business. Have you ever avoided the inevitable task of informing a client that the price for their trip has changed since you last spoke? I have.
We can’t control the customer’s psyche or mood. Like me, there is no telling when they will have had enough. So, 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.