Do you want customers?
Posted by Becky Carroll on April 19, 2007
My friend Steve Woodruff writes the terrific blog called StickyFigure, focused on branding and its impact. Today he posted a thought-provoking article entitled Customers Rot! Steve wanted to share the opposite of the Customers Rock! attitude which he found recently during some adventures with plumbing. He tells the story of calling a plumber he had used once before, this time to get some assistance on a few minor projects. He never heard back. Same with a few other plumbers which had been recommended to him. Steve concludes this story with the following:
Now, I understand if the other fellows were too busy – particularly since our work on this occasion was pretty small scale. But too busy to return a call, and simply explain that you don’t have the time right now – and maybe provide a recommendation? Too busy to value a customer – and what that customer may say (positive or negative) to others who ask their opinion? Too busy for common courtesy?
I had a similar experience with a gardener when we moved to our new house this past year. The previous owners had created a beautiful tropical garden, and we wanted to keep it that way. They gave us the name and number of their gardener, who they loved and had used for 3 years. We quickly called him, left a message using the referrer’s name and ours, and waited to hear back.
And waited and waited.
We left more messages. Finally, our yard was starting to fall into some disarray, and we turned to asking our neighbors for referrals. We had more success, as they actually called us and got the job.
Why wouldn’t the first gardener want to return our calls? Taking a while to get back to us is one thing, and I certainly understand when people have a busy schedule . We thought perhaps they were out of town (it was summer). But when a week or two (or more) go by, it is obvious they won’t be calling. We would have been an easy sale, as we weren’t even going to bid this out but were going to take the previous owner’s recommendation!
Here’s the other thing the gardener missed out on: other new customers from our referral. A few months after this happened, another neighbor (also new to the area) asked us who we were using for gardening. We could have referred the original gardener to this new person, and it would have been easy for him to pick up another job on the same street.
Using common courtesy in returning customer calls is what I would call the “basic” level of customer communications. If you are busy, set expectations accordingly (a critical part of managing the customer experience). Make sure you meet or exceed the expectations you have set in order to build trust.
Having a Customers Rot! attitude means you view your customers as an inconvenience, and you treat them in such a way that they wonder whether you care about them.
Having a Customers Rock! attitude means you view your customers as a valuable asset to your business, and you treat them in such as way that they see value in the relationship with you.