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Always Think Relationships

Posted on January 30, 2007

I recently went through an experience that left me wondering what the other party was thinking so I thought I would share. The background is this: I signed a contract with said party a while ago. The person I did the deal with left the company and erased all deals from the computer systems meaning the rest of the organization didn’t know about my deal. I called to check in on things and received the back-story on what happened and then proceeded to recount the deal and fax over the contract. Here’s where things get interesting.

The owner of the establishment proceeded to tell me I needed to pay all sorts of other charges that were not on the original contract in order to get the space I needed. When I informed the owner that I had a contract she still proceeded to try to get me to pay for a lot of extras that “are supposed to be on all contracts” but the employee that left the business did not include them (precisely because I negotiated them off the contract). After a half hour of arguing with me the owner gave me what I wanted and what I had contracted for and actually made the evening quite pleasant. I was honestly impressed with how things went in the end of the day.

Here’s the question: If you are going to appease the customer in the end why fight them? In this situation I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth even though the outcome was great. I probably won’t do business with this establishment again because of this interaction. If the owner had simply agreed to fulfill my contract in lieu of the employee issues I would have been greatful even though she was just doing what she was obligated to do and I would have went back to her in the future.

Word to the wise, make the customer happy especially if they are, in fact, right and you’ll reap the dividends for years to come. If you always look at each customer interaction as a potential long term relationship rather than just a single sale your business will have a higher chance of success.

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4 Comments so far
  1. Justin Ward January 31, 2007 7:54 am

    Amen, man! You have to wonder if they just felt like fighting with someone; otherwise why give in at the end?

    I think a lot of people truly act before thinking about the implications and it’s hard to see someone caught in the middle of that. “Oh, no? I can’t have that? Oh wait — now you said I can? WTF.” or so goes my thought process…

    Yeah, totally frustrating. Way to stick to your guns.

  2. Fraser January 31, 2007 11:38 pm

    What an odd story. If you’re going to empower your employees you should also be ready to support the choices they make while empowered (as they relate to pleasing a customer)

  3. Colin February 1, 2007 6:43 pm

    Here’s the flip side. We had a high-powered sales person who sold for below cost to get the required customer numbers by year end and a fat bonus. This person then jumped ship just before the annual review of those contracts.

    Those customers obviously want prices this year to be similar to what they were sold last year. Unfortunately, no company can stay in business producing for less than cost.

    So we have now downsized - shedding good staff - and still we lost several customers who felt that we let them dowm when, in fact, the betrayal was all the work of one sneaky b****** - who sounds very like the same person you did your original deal with!

    So perhaps “owner of the establishment” was simply fed up firing capable “no-fault” staff and was just trying hard to keep the business and the remaining staffs’ jobs going?

    A relationships needs two parties, but customers often bail for what seems like no good reason. Case in point; you actually got the very beneficial (to you!) rates restored and the owner “actually made the evening quite pleasant”, yet you’re still going to go elsewhere. Why?

    No offense intended, but from that company’s point of view, that’s probably a good thing.

    PS.
    Fraser, Staff do overstep the bounds of their employment and no company should support the actions of rogue staff regardless - e.g.if you employ a doorman to enforce a dress code, do you support them without question if they then break the legs of an arguementative customer?

  4. Eric Olson February 1, 2007 8:31 pm

    Hey Colin,

    Thanks for your comment. I definitely see your side of things as well. In this particular case we negotiated things out of the contract that we negotiate out of every contract for every place we have ever dealt with. We bring a lot of business to the establishments we work with on nights where they would do almost none so we use that as leverage to save ourselves some cash (since we do these events as a non-profit venture).

    I have no doubt that the owner walked away with more money than she had in one single night since the place has been open so the deal was not just beneficial to us. That’s what made me so upset. She made it very difficult to pay her lots of money.

    Do you see now why I wrote what I wrote? I had thought of it from your angle but in the end this deal was a win for both parties (in fact, the deal was in favor of the establishment if anything).