In the past several weeks I have been met with some professionals (and I use that term because they use it only) that I was giving my business to. I was their client, their customer, their money in the drawer during this sucky economy.
The first was a professional who did construction, maintenance – you know the ‘all around handy guy.’ When asked to do emergency work that was being paid for by me, it ended up being a four-day job with no work and no communication. I moved on.
Then it was the mechanic who floored me in a number of ways. First I asked if the job could be done in two days, because well, I needed my vehicle back in two days, and I told him politely that if he couldn’t, I would have to find someone else to do the job, if possible, in two days. (just a tire rod replacement and inspection, which I know only takes a couple of hours).
He was offended and told me I should show him more respect. What? Am I not paying him?
Oh and the second way he floored me. He called me to tell me it was done, and then said I am going to lunch at 12 so be here before then or wait for it. Now I was on my way, about 20 minutes out, and it was 11:30. You would think rather than putting me out, and making me wait to PAY him, he would hang around for a few minutes IF I were late – he does own the shop after all.
After paying, I was then harangued about how I should show respect for the good work that is done and not threaten to take the work elsewhere. Well, I am a customer. I pay for what I want. If you can’t give it to me, then I will find someone who can. That is the price you pay for calling yourself a professional.
I should respect him even though he can talk to me, a paying customer that way? I think not.
Here’s how I treat my clients. When they need something I either deliver it, or they go elsewhere. I certainly wouldn’t tell them take it or leave it. I certainly wouldn’t go to lunch and not accept a payment, making them wait to pay. i wouldn’t put their work on the back burner because they had a rush job. I work harder to show them I can do it, and do it the way they want.
Has this become a primitive way of thinking?
In this economy, I think the best way to maintain clients – not just get them and move on – is to treat them like paying clients. because well, they are. If I can’t give them what they want, why waste their time. By being honest, they may just come back next time to me when I can give them exactly what they want.
They may just spread the word about how wonderful their interaction is. They may even refer others tome. And I have found they do.
Now, I firmly believe that when you get crappy service, you should mention it. And many will repeat the information about the crappy service over and over and over again.
But let’s not forget the good service. As a client myself, when I like something, I share and share often. I refer and promote and recommend all the time. That is the respect they EARNED when I do business as a paying customer. Notice, I haven’t shared the name of the crappy customer service companies. I won’t give them weight!
That is the respect I try to earn as a business owner/operator for my clients.
So, if it is primitive thinking that gets me here, then so be it. It works for me.