by Jenise Fryatt
Imagine: you’ve landed a new client during difficult economic times. Your first event with them sets up in 4 days, 2,000 miles away. You’ve paid the “Good Deal” (not their real name) trucking company 10 days in advance to pick up your gear on Sunday. It’s Saturday and Good Deal isn’t returning your calls.
OH, IT GETS WORSE
Finally Good Deal’s representative Mr. Salesguy returns a call. He says he had no idea it would be so tough to find drivers. Apparently all are busy trucking gear for a big tradeshow. You ask if you should start looking for trucking alternatives. He says “Consider all alternatives.”
You start to sweat. You get on the phone and have the same difficulty finding free truckers as Mr. Salesguy was having. You stay at the office all weekend, calling, waiting for calls to be returned.
Mr. Salesguy is less and less available. In fact, you lose hope that you will ever hear from him again.
At last you email off one final desperate plea to Mr Salesguy and you CC all of his bosses. “Have a heart!” you implore at the end of it.
Not until Monday morning, JUST HOURS BEFORE YOUR GEAR WAS SCHEDULED TO BE PICKED UP, do you finally get a response. First from Mr. Salesguy who says, “Sorry about that but I’m a noninterested sales contractor and I don’t work weekends. I’m on my way into work now to try to find drivers for your shipment.”
Shortly after that you receive an email from one of Mr Salesguy’s bosses who says, “Mr. Salesguy has been working very hard to find drivers for you. We are so sorry it didn’t work out. Mr. Salesguy is a great employee. ”
After you inform Mr. Salesguy’s bosses that, contrary to what he told them, you weren’t informed of any problems until two days ago, you never hear from Mr. Salesguy or his boss again except in email blast spam.
Yes this is a true story and it happened to my poor husband very recently. It continues to shock and amaze us.
Don’t get me wrong. Stuff happens. Sometimes there are unforseen circumstances that we can’t do anything about. But business is about building and nurturing relationships. Do you think the “Good Deal Trucking” company gets that?
If ONLY, Mr. Salesguy had:
- started working on our order at least one week before we needed our gear to be picked up;
- let us know in a timely manner that he was having trouble finding a trucker;
- kept communications lines open and actually tried to help us find a replacement over the weekend;
- if only Mr. Salesguy’s bosses had done something, anything, to make us feel that they cared about our dilemma and wanted to make it right;
- if only SOMEBODY from Good Deal had taken responsibility for the situation and sincerely apologized;
THEN there would have actually been a reasonable chance we would try using Good Deal again in the future and if things went well, would recommend them to our friends.
Instead this stands out as the WORST customer service experience we have ever had, providing a text-book example of what not to do when things go wrong.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Of course good business demands that we always do whatever we can to create the best outcome for all of our clients. But when things go wrong it’s very important to:
- keep communication-lines open
- take responsibility and apologize when appropriate
- do whatever you can to make things right
Above all, be on your client’s team!! Once you agree to provide a service to someone, make it your responsibility to help make sure it gets done, even if you wind up not being able to do it. When you created the problem, it’s just the right thing to do. It can go a long way toward making up for mistakes and make the customer more likely to give you a second chance.
When I feel that a company cares about me, even when they aren’t getting paid by me, it makes me want to do business with them. Helping people builds trust, loyalty and a solid reputation for your company. Doing what the Good Deal Trucking company did leaves a very bad taste that won’t be forgotten and will probably spark the kind of talk you don’t want.
Jenise Fryatt’s blog Sound n’ Sight covers events industry thoughts and features with an audio visual and social media bent. Jenise is also co-owner/marketing director of Icon Presentations Audio Visual for Events located in Southern California. She describes herself as an “events industry cheerleader” who is also a yoga and improv devotee trying to stay in the present.