Customers Beware

By: Chad Koebcke

This one is just for fun. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on the blog lately, and my wife recommended that when I get ideas for blogs, I jot down reminders. This is normally her arena, but with the birth of our new baby last month (as you saw in the email), she has had her hands full. Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed getting my voice out there.

So it came to me the other day that in addition to all of us being in business – most of us business owners, or in positions of authority – we are also customers. Why is this important? Well, for two reasons:

  1. Everyone should benefit from what I am about to say on some level

  2. If personally this doesn’t resonate, it should inspire you to discuss what I am about to say with your team

Here it is: Nice customers = better pricing, better service, and harder working teams.

Wow. Not a new concept, right? But it is an important one. As a new homeowner, I am in the customer role a lot these days. I have had to remind myself the importance of patience, especially when I know I have hired the right company, and something doesn’t go the way I want. As a customer who knows the ramifications of “losing my sh%4” – I try to do the following when a vendor lets me down:

  1. Respect the chain of command: Everyone has someone to answer to and it’s important to voice concerns with the right person. Identify who your point person is and make sure you communicate throughout the project what your expectations are.
  2. Make sure my expectations are stated up front and understood by the team I’ve hired: This is especially important in the beginning phases of your project. Documentation is key here.
  3. Know what I want to ask for: Complaining for the sake of complaining is useless. It is important to know what I would like in terms of outcome. This allows for quicker negotiation in finding a solution to any problem.
  4. The most important…) Say what I mean, mean what I say and don’t say it mean – aka Don’t be an ass: Just because you are paying for a service doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to verbally assault someone or even so much as demean them. Identify your problem, know your solution, and deliver the message with respect.

These small tips go a long way – why? Because if you do go off the rails, you’re jeopardizing being put on the company’s blackball list. Being blackballed could mean higher prices, being fired, or even an incomplete job – leaving you kind of screwed. So, just be nice – I promise, it will go far. Just remind yourself how you go above and beyond for the customers who go above and beyond.

So, what can you do as a business owner to prepare your team for the enraged client? Just talk to them about what you expect from them when this happens. I actually encourage you to set up a time to chat with them about how they handle customers who are inappropriate. It will be a good conversation and you can brainstorm responses on what the protocol should be in these situations.

Thanks for reading!