There is plenty written about how to GET good customers and how to KEEP
good customers, but what about how to BE a good customer? Do you really
WANT to be a pain? Do you really WANT other people to want your business?
Why? Because you need the products and services of others in order to
provide YOUR product or service.
Let’s say your computer goes on the fritz. You call your favorite
repairman (he has done a good job in the past); he comes over because
it’s too heavy to lug to a repair shop, and fixes it. Next day, same
problem. Uh-oh. You don’t have time for this! You paid good money to
have the machine repaired! So you call him back and, when he gets there,
you start yelling at him, threaten to call the Better Business Bureau,
tell everyone you know, and stop payment on the check. (Okay, I’m
exaggerating to make my point!)
What do you think will happen the next time your computer needs repair?
You may find that it takes longer for him to "fit you into his
schedule". In the meantime, however, you have no computer… would
that have an impact on your business?
The same goes with all of your suppliers: raw material vendors,
printers, designers, and copywriters for your brochures, consultants…
the list goes on and on. Where would you be without those products and
"Oh," you say, "I’ll just find someone else." Why
would you want to spend all of that time finding and "training"
someone new? We all know how hard it is to find a good supplier and get
them to treat you the way you want/need to be treated.
Speaking of training, in a very real sense you are a ‘customer’ of
your employees’ services, aren’t you? If you are a bad ‘customer’
(aka ‘bad boss’) your employees will want to find a different customer
(i.e. find another job). What will THAT cost you? Plenty; not only in
money, but in time spent advertising, interviewing, and training, as well
as lost opportunity.
So what do you have to do to be a good customer? Here are some words
for you: considerate, tolerant, polite, complimentary, empathetic, and
helpful. You need these people! Treat them the way you’d like to be
treated by your customers. In the computer repair example above,
sure you’re frustrated. But consider that the guy is human and mistakes
are made occasionally. Some things are out of his control… the second
problem may actually be a new problem that just looks like the
first one. Are you always perfect? Probably not, so don’t expect
everyone else to be.
Here is a powerful technique: go out of your way to give compliments
when they are due. Businesses are inundated with complaints, but few
people take the time to compliment. My wife makes a point of giving
compliments and, when she does, the reaction is usually quite surprising
and very rewarding.
Good employees and good vendors are like gold. Don’t chase them away
by being a ‘bad customer’. It will cost you big time.
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