Customers Rot!

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.

Same result.

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!


About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

3 Responses to Customers Rot!

  1. Doug Karr says:

    I must confess that I rarely call people back immediately. It’s honestly that I don’t want to – it’s simply that I have so many requests on a daily basis that it’s a challenge to get through them all. I do; however, set expectations with friends and colleagues that that is – unfortunately – my life.

    In this world of blogs, twitter, email, text messaging, instant messaging, cell phones, voice mail, work phones, and home phones… it’s difficult to meet all the requests in a timely manner!

  2. Thanks for the mention, Steve, and for your tongue-in-cheek name for those OTHER companies with a Customers Rot attitude! 🙂

    It is amazing how some companies don’t seem to want customers. 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.

    Finally, our yard was starting to fall into disarray, and we asked some other neighbors for referrals. We had more success with them!

    Why wouldn’t the gardener want to return our calls? Taking a while to get back to us is one thing, and I certainly understand Doug’s busy schedule (in the comment above). But when a week or two go by, it is obvious they won’t be calling. We would have been an easy sale!

  3. Pingback: Do you want customers? « Customers Rock!

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