Negative customer experience is created by squandering opportunities to serve your customer. Many random acts of inattention create a poor impression, no matter how well-established your SME or startup.
I’m hosting a large dinner party next month. I contacted three caterers through their websites. I’d received glowing accolades about their food. These companies had years of experience serving not only major corporations but individuals, like me, who host events at home.
Here’s what happened next.
Caterer #1 contacted me by email within 48 hours to let me know that they would be unable to serve me on the date I requested. They were booked solid.
Caterer #2 contacted me within 4 days. They attached a questionnaire. Based on my responses, they created a proposal and sent it back to me after another 7 days. The proposal was a templated response and standard menu. It included food only, an inaccurate service charge, and left out items like tables, chairs, serving ware, etc. because I hadn’t indicated what I wanted. After I fired off an email to the director of catering, indicating the gaps in the proposal, I received an automatic reply that she was out of the office for the next week. Fifteen days after I originally contacted them, I received a voicemail message from an account manager, asking me if I had any questions on the proposal. Three weeks after my initial request, I received a phone call from the director of catering: why hadn’t they heard back from me?
Do you have heartburn yet?
Caterer #3 contacted me within 4 hours of my sending the email, thanking me for my interest in her company. She was the Owner. Was there a time she could come to my home to meet me, view the space and talk about my ideas for the evening? We met the following week. We did a dress rehearsal of what the evening would look like, considered traffic flow, ambiance, menu, and how well my home worked with what I had in mind. The next week, she created the perfect menu and a complete proposal including service and incidentals. Not only that, the Owner was going to work the event as well, for quality control purposes.
I don’t need to tell you which caterer I hired.
The Owner of Caterer #3 recognized that I represented her opportunity to build a long-term business relationship. She understood the importance of a customized and highly personal approach to developing my business. She demonstrated her overall experience as we collaborated together and created the event, including anticipating potential hitches in our game plan.
Caterer #1 indicated their professionalism, even though they were unable to serve me. They also understood the importance of a prompt response. Well done.
Caterer #2, well, you tell me what you read into that scenario. Would you give them a second chance, in the future?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers like engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups to create sustainable business models and revenue strategies. To read more about how to build your business through collaboration strategies, check out my book, Do YOU Mean Business.