It is absolutely stunning, how little people understand about affording excellent customer service.
In my way of doing business, I do my utmost to make our clients happy and I almost never tell any client “No”. When they ask for a refund (and 2 clients in 7 years of being in business have); they get their money–even when we believe, it’s unfair to us.
Very recently in a dealing with a local limousine company (not referred by us), we approached them on a mutual clients behalf; I came to found out the Clients preference was a white limousine for their wedding day. As they’d contacted us rather late in their planning process, once I found out they’d hired a car company without my input (this same company told them, there are “only 27 stretch limousines in Phoenix and it’s the busy season”), they went ahead and deposited (on a black car), because they were afraid they’d be without a car on their Day. Of course, you and I know they should have called me first, but I digress…
Once I got this information in hand, I proceeded to call the company to ask about a white stretch (knowing that I had a preferred vendor who had one with no problem), but firstly, promptly and very nicely asked for a refund for our mutual client. “The Client hired you mainly out of fear; and not with what I would call full knowledge, his Wife wants a white limo and as a Wedding and Event Planner in town, when next I can refer a client to you, I certainly will to try to make it up to you.” In other words, let’s let these people out of this contract and I’ll do my best to send you other business to make up for it. A nice offer I thought and as I’d not done any business with this client before, I thought a nice way to begin a relationship. A favor for a favor.
The Gal on the phone said she couldn’t authorize refunds. “Okay. Put me through to your Manager, please.” “I am a Manager”, she replied, then after much back and forth; “You actually need the Operations Manager and she’s not here, I don’t have any power to make this decision.” “She’s gone for the weekend and won’t be available until Tuesday (this was last Friday). “She’s the only one who can approve refunds. I’ll try to reach her for you though and see what we can do.” All pleasantries…and I should have known it was what I call “niceness-smoke”….because when I called on Saturday, she had no answer for me, but she did take both my phone numbers (and here’s me thinking: “ahhhh, progress!”). I then proceeded to call twice on Sunday, still no answer and still no Manager to speak to. “I don’t know why she’s not responding to me, but I’ve tried to reach her.” On the said Tuesday morning, with still no return phone call about the refund, I ring again and lo and behold at 4:30pm on Tuesday afternoon (this same “manager” who’s had my phone number since the Friday before), tells me “No, we’re not offering any refund.” “O.K., May I speak with….”No, She’s not here.” “How about the Owner?” “No, He’s not here.”
Surprise! No, that really wasn’t a surprise and this probably isn’t either: This company will NEVER get any of my future business.
What kind of professional shop can’t supply a simple answer “Yes, we can” or “No, we can’t?” Leave aside the times you bite the bullet and refund the client anyway, because that’s what a smart business owner does. The next time a planner asks me for a limo referral, guess who’s number I’m NOT giving out. Funny? Here’s funny: during our just recent and (unfortunately, not last) conversation, she asked me if she could find out if that white limo (supplied through a contractor), had the audio fixed yet and could she call me with an answer. “Well, you haven’t called me in days, why would you do that now?” There. A little satisfaction for your writer.
It isn’t the “No” that really offends me; I hear a “no” from time to time, it comes with the territory. Some people are willing to bend to get new business, some aren’t…..it’s that this SAME company in weeks prior took the liberty of posting their phone number and company name on my Companies’ Facebook Wall; like a mini-advertisement. Out of pure kindness and as a professional courtesy, I left it there….then lo and behold, when I need a favor for our first mutual client, not only can I not get one; I get literally pulled around for days trying to get a simple answer. But wait! Aren’t we Facebook Friends? HAH! This company has lost goodwill with me and anyone within earshot….and, what’s really silly? All of this over a $250.00 deposit. I wonder. Do they think they made the right business decision? I’ve had the good fortune of getting returns 4 times that amount from local businesses for my clients–and those people; they were smart. They just knew it was the right thing to do; for both of us, because if the client is unhappy, the vendor gets to be unhappy.
Now, let’s circle back a moment and discuss the Manager; you know, the one who “didn’t have any power”. Could she have called me? Absolutely. She never followed up with me over the course of 5 days to try to come to a solution that would help everyone. I’m not an unreasonable woman and I always try to be respectful; until I realize I’m being played. She never did one proactive thing on our mutual clients’ behalf. I wonder if her so powerfully-busy-upper-echelon-6-figured Manager even knew I’d called…..I had to call her, multiple times–so, in addition to doing my job, I was having to do hers.
The term “Customer service” is made up of two words. You have a customer. You’re supposed to service their needs; call them, follow up; don’t show up a week before you need a renewal for their business when you haven’t spoken to them in a year, you won’t get that renewal, especially if that business investment isn’t paying and hasn’t paid off. I pay people I like and I do business with people I like and I afford people business who service our companies’ needs.
So, in closing; I recommend you not hire Maxim Limousine Worldwide. They apparently don’t have any managerial system in place to deal with a client by telephone, text, shouting, sonar or smoke signal (unless, of course, you’re going to be paying them money).
And, last but not least and because I’ve been holding this in for the last 9 months: To http://signaturevideo.com/contact.html out of San Diego (not referred by us, as well), the day you took your $450.00 deposit from our Bride and Groom, did you plan then to cheat them? And when you never afforded them even the rough footage, let alone a finished product, I have to ask: how do you sleep at night?
For you readers, by the way, if I had shot the video for my clients, they’d have it today, and that would be yet just one more example of me having to do someone else’s job…