News & Updates

News & Updates

News & Updates

February 9, 2010

Customer Service- Take the Low- hanging Fruit!

I had a client meeting in the small, sleepy town of Angleton, Texas (30 miles south of Houston) this week. My client and I were in need of a place to eat a small meal and speak about his situation, and so we chose what appeared to be a quaint little donut shop- Billy’s Donuts. […]

I had a client meeting in the small, sleepy town of Angleton, Texas (30 miles south of Houston) this week. My client and I were in need of a place to eat a small meal and speak about his situation, and so we chose what appeared to be a quaint little donut shop- Billy’s Donuts.

We entered the parking lot- no cars in view- usually a bad sign, but we ventured in anyway. Upon entering the facility, we noticed that we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was a few minutes before 11:30am, and we noticed a sign that indicated that their hours of operation were 6am to noon.

A young man- 25 or so- asked to take our orders. My client ordered a small coffee, and we noticed that there was just about enough coffee in the singular pot for his order. Having driven in from Austin that morning, however, I was in need of some extra caffeine, and I indicated to the associate that I needed a large coffee.

He looked at me, looked back at the pot, looked at me again, and asked us to wait until he went into the back of the facility. Incredibly, he re-appeared 30 seconds later, and said, “Sir, we are not making any more coffee for the day.” It took my client and I all of 2 seconds to immediately leave that facility.

Let’s look at this entire situation- not from a standpoint of politeness and decency, but from a standpoint of what’s good for the business. In that instant, the powers that be in Billy’s Donuts made the decision to not make a pot of coffee, which would have cost them at the most $.50 to make. They forfeited the $2.00 or so of revenue that would have been theirs with the purchase of my coffee. They forfeited the revenue from the small coffee that my client had ordered, and had already received. They also forfeited the food that we were going to order- for argument’s sake, let’s say $10.

But most importantly, they forfeited the lifetime revenue that I, my client, and anyone within the sound of our voices for the rest of our lives would have spent in that facility, because it is a fact that no-one with whom we interact will ever get a recommendation to give that location their patronage. In essence, they validated the scene that was evident from the moment that we pulled into that empty parking lot- poor customer service not only creates angry and frustrated customers, but you usually do not get the chance to hold on to them.

The moral of this story is simple; in an era of economic hardships, it has become increasingly difficult to generate business in any industry. While entrepreneurs have to work as hard as possible to invent new and creative ways to generate enough revenue to keep the doors of the business open, it is entrepreneurial suicide to not take care of the clients who are literally landing in your lap.

Maybe your issue is not as far to the right on the continuum of unacceptable client interactions; however, it would behoove you to engage in a moment of introspection on behalf of your own company. Is everyone who has any interaction with your clients as committed to keeping them as you are? Are all of your business practices consistent with the objective of attracting, keeping, and continually “wow-ing” the clients that you have?

Do what you can to keep your clients; remember- this has to be a top-down commitment.

Oh- and if you’re ever in Angleton, Texas, and are in need of a snack or a coffee break, my recommendation is the Shipley’s across the street from Billy’s Donut Shop.

A few thoughts:
 

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