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