Monday, June 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

Today's Monday and it started off, true to form, with unnecessary problems for me to deal with. To make an exhaustingly long story as short as possible, I have a graphic designer and a sales rep from a printing company feuding very publicly (and in my mind unprofessionally) over my company's business (among other things) on the hallowed walls of Facebook. And people ask me why I'm not a huge fan of social media! 

The situation resulted in my having to send the following email....

Dear "Printer", 
I received your voicemail last week while I was out of the office for meetings and was back in the office on Friday but did not have a chance to respond.
I find it unfortunate that this situation has become so dramatic and out of hand. Please understand that the decision to move our product guide to another printer was made by me and my company, not by "Graphic Designer", and it is a decision I stand behind. We based our decision on the information we had at the time, including quotes we received from "Printer" and several other companies. It is always our policy to get at least three bids on any job and to reevaluate those choices again each year. The press check was also a critical factor in our decision. It’s something we would have insisted on, even if "Graphic Designer" had not. 
I appreciate your desire to retain our business, and I’m happy to make some time for a phone call this afternoon, but I can tell you now that it will not change my decision. Please remember that it was "Graphic Designer" who originally brought our business to "Printer". Our relationship is with "Graphic Designer" first and we have already made a commitment to "Graphic Designer" and to the other printing company. I intend to honor it. I do not appreciate being put in the middle of this ugliness. Whether or not you and "Graphic Designer" can put this behind you, I hope you will both have the respect to leave me and my business out of it and discontinue any further escalation.  
I have always been happy with your level of quality and service, but I do not feel you are serving us well now with these additional complications. The opportunity to secure our business in the future would have been as simple as saying, “We’re sorry we didn’t get your business this year, we’d like to be able to work with you again, please consider us next time.”  
If you’d still like to give me a call this afternoon, I will be available anytime after 3:00 pm (central).

The hows and the whys are less important in this situation here than what I think is the bottom line: Good customer service is about making your customer happy. Sometimes that means finding a better solution to a problem. Sometimes that means saving your customer money. Sometimes that's as simple as taking care of your customer and making their lives easier by not dripping drama all over their desks on an already frightful Monday morning. And it definitely, always, means thinking of your customer first. The object is ultimately retaining your customer's business, of course, but there are many ways to go about retaining business, and the easiest is to make sure your customer wants to keep doing business with you, enjoys doing business with you.

Five minutes after sending the email, a small box was delivered to my desk. The return address was Gruene Mansion Inn, a fabulous property where our company recently held an annual meeting. I figured someone had left something behind in one of their rooms and since I was the meeting contact the lost belonging had been directed to me. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened it to find this inside.

Contents include our sales rep's business card, a very thoughtful hand-written note, and a hand-thrown stoneware mug featuring the property's logo.

This is a property I was already completely satisfied with. Our staff and guests at the meeting positively raved about how much they enjoyed everything from the rooms to the location to interactions with the property's representatives. I was already planning a return trip. Throughout the entire process from planning to execution, I felt like the property had my back, could handle any problem, and was going to make my meeting seamless and successful. And then, this lovely thank you package, like a round and rosy cherry on top.

Two very different companies. Two very different customer service experiences. Back to back and only moments apart. One is going to get my return business and the other is definitely not. Ironic, isn't it?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Makin' the Best of Every Virtue and Vice

Five days. Fifty-four guests. Four sunrise walks on the beach. 

One amazingly beautiful bride and one ridiculously proud groom (in a kilt!). 

Eleven thousand grains of sand in my sarong. At least seven pina coladas. And about six thousand calories worth of delicious food. 

Per day. 

One hundred percent enchanting, one hundred percent all inclusive. 

One delightful Mexican beach getaway.

Of course, we finished it off with one plane ride, four hours worth of delays due to three hailstorm-tornado combos ripping through Dallas, and about seven thousand dollars worth of damage to one (completely totaled) Pontiac Vibe. It's always sweet to be back at home!

Monday, June 6, 2011

On Being Conflicted, Neurotic, and Slightly Deranged

There is a lot going on in my life right now. Have I mentioned that lately? I think I've mentioned that lately. We are selling our house, moving across the country, trying to manage all the details that those twin endeavors entail. And all the while I'm trying to keep living life. I'm working and travelling and throwing baby showers and spending time with friends and basically just trying, as hard as I can, to savor all of these moments. To take advantage of the joys and squeeze all the memories I can out of these last days and weeks before the new adventure begins in earnest. To resist letting the time fly by in a frantic, panicked frenzy of freaking out. To calmly walk through this journey and take note of all the beauty along the way. 

I'm trying. But I'm not really very good at it. I have these mutually-exclusive cravings and desires that constantly get in each other's way. Because I want everything all at once. I want the new and the old. The adventure and the familiar. I want to go and stay or at least take everything I love with me. Everything. I. Love. And my brain short-circuits and my head explodes and tears spill carelessly over all the dams that I've tried to shore up with no regard for where or why or how long. But I'm trying.

I'm so excited. I am so very excited...about our move, about our opportunities, about Keith's job, about my work-from-home situation, about exploring our town and meeting friends and finding a church and making a home. I'm so excited about all the New, New, New. I love New. New has a seductive power over me that is rivaled only by More (my other great weakness, but that's another story). New makes me feel tingly all over. It ramps up my adrenaline. It sets my mind reeling and my heart dreaming. I love all the possibility of New. I love the anything could happen of it all. New is a breath of fresh air, a burst of creative energy that sets me positively humming. I love New.

But I also, maybe for the first time, am facing a bright and beautiful New while still being really, truly, completely enamored with my Old. This last year has been so wonderful. I've loved my life. Loved it. I love the home Keith and I have created here, the friends, the community. I love the safe, day to day, routine of it all. I poured myself wholeheartedly, unreservedly into this time and this place and these relationship. Every last drip-drop of self spilled out, invested. I don't usually do that. I'm usually more self-protective than that. I'm usually more fearful. But I did, and I've received more than all of it back over and over again. I've been loved and nourished and stretched and grown. It's been wonderful. I don't want to let go. Not yet. Not just yet.

Everything's happening so fast. Our house went on the market last Thursday and by Friday at noon we had a full price offer for it. This is what we've been praying for. Our house sold in one day, in one showing. Joy! Thankfulness! But also, I can't believe it happened so easily, so fast. How could it have happened so fast? Dread. Panic. I'm not ready. I'm so ready, but I'm also so not ready. To let go of this all. To say goodbye to it all. To have our tiny, cozy, perfect little home belong to someone else. To be so far away from friends and family. It feels really big right now. Really overwhelming. Really right and good and exciting, too. So, you know, a lot of emotion. And we all know how well I deal with a lot of conflicting emotion. It's beginning to wear on me a little bit. Also, we're having just a bit more trouble finding a place to live in North Carolina than I'd expected. So there's that.

But there's also time. Not enough, but there's some. Six more weeks. To savor, to prepare, to transition. To fully, recklessly live. And to break down, and freak out, and cry. Because, let's face it, I will. I will do all those things and then some. And then I'll smile, and turn my face forward. To the now. To the New.