With the exception of the occasional business, most exist in a competitive environment. With the advent of the internet the world has been brought closer together giving people greater choice. That greater choice means greater competition.
Regardless of your strategy for selling, all businesses will be judged to varying degrees on service. Even if you are the cheapest, if your service is bad, people may only buy off you once, or may ditch you for a higher priced product/service where they feel they get looked after better.
I recently had an interesting experience with a bank which highlighted how customers can be quite unforgiving (myself in this case) and businesses can be arrogant too!
I have had my ups and downs with my account manager. When he has done great things, I have called him to thank him, but equally there has been a couple of times, when I let him know, I thought what he had done was very poor. My recent contact had been very positive. A few weeks ago, I reached out to him casually asking him and his assistant to take a look at something I had done and give me some feedback. I didn’t receive an acknowledgement of my email from either of them, but I did receive an email asking questions about financial information I had just provided.
Over a week went by, with no response to my email. In the interim I had chosen not to respond to his email until I got at least an acknowledgement of my email. I then sent a casual email following up in case neither of them received my email, still no response. I then sent my third email, which was still polite, but very direct, querying whether they had received my email. Finally, the junior member of the team got back to me and said they would get back to me.
Ultimately, I got a response, but it was off topic. Communication continued beyond this but suffice to say I never got a response to my actual request. What had started as a simple request, had become a negative experience of frustration. So much for showing their client support in the challenging times of COVID.
With encouragement from my wife, I spoke to my account manager’s boss. I wish I never did that! He was very firm and dismissive. He couldn’t guarantee that any of his staff would have given me a response! Yes, my request was not strictly a banking request, but it wasn’t onerous and in these days of high competition, I would have thought they would be happy to oblige and show support! But here is the thing! He clearly thought, right now it wouldn’t be easy for me to shift all my banking, so he didn’t feel pressured to provide any meaningful assistance.
What can be learned from all of this? Clients will potentially focus on their last experience with you, so you need to make it good! The account manager had done some good things, but it was hard to go past his most recent indiscretion. Businesses need to be on top of their game all the time. Rightly or wrongly, customers can be tough taskmasters! Secondly, don’t be arrogant and take your client for granted. I may not be able to change banks at this point in time, but that time will come, at which time I won’t have forgotten my treatment. In the meantime, a disgruntled customer can be vocal and cause some damage to your brand.
If the account manager didn’t want to give feedback, all it required was a polite email advising that it was outside of what they were able to assist with. I may have been a little disappointed, but the response would have been understandable with no lasting negative impact. Instead, a problem developed unnecessarily, which will have a lasting negative impact.
Some clients can just become too difficult, but in most cases, it need not take too much to keep the client happy. What ever you do, don’t become arrogant and take clients for granted, no matter how big your business. It could come back to bite you!