Becky Carroll has a very enjoyable blog entitled Customers Rock!, in which she holds forth the perspective that we really should treat our customers as incredibly valuable.
But some people/companies still seem to hold to a Customers Rot! attitude.
Recently, we’ve been seeking to get some plumbing work done. A sink replaced, a couple faucets, a few other smaller things (full disclosure: I’d classify myself as only “half-handy,” and better at outdoor work than indoor stuff!) So we made a call, first of all to a very nice plumber who quickly helped us with a belly-up water heater a couple months back. He’d come to us recommended by a friend. Surely he’d want to maintain a customer relationship!
No response. No return call, even after a couple of messages.
We tried with another referred name.
Another. Finally, a call back – this fellow does these type of small jobs “on the side,” but apparently he is more willing to gain a customer doing evening work, than others for whom it is a day job.
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?
Another example of a Customers Rot! attitude – not neglect, but downright hostility – came to the surface this week when I was speaking with another consultant. She started a role with a software/services company, and mentioned that on the very first day, an employee put a customer on hold and started letting loose a stream of demeaning and negative comments about this client (probably one of their largest sources of revenue). Displaying, right in front of this person just starting out, why that particular company was not going to be worthy of a long-term engagement. She quickly moved on.
A company’s brand goes far deeper than a logo and a tagline. It is profoundly shaped by attitudes. The employees embody the brand, for better or for worse (here’s a positive example). One of the best “branding” moves a company can make is hiring people who truly seek to serve, and who do not stew in negativity! If you end up with “hostiles,” don’t be surprised when you get the business equivalent of red cards!