Tag Archives: vendors

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cheap customer service

What Happens When You Have Cheap Customer Service?

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Your organizational culture will develop from habits, traditions, and symbols. What value are you placing on customer service? Do you have a culture of cheap customer service?

Being Cheaper

Recently I ordered something from eBay. The shipper shipped the product in the actual product box, not the typical brown box that most shippers would use, probably because it was cheaper.

About a month ago, I wrote a note to a vendors contact page, in return I received an automated message. In the long run no one ever returned my inquiry. This feels like they may be using their resources for something else, something that feels more important. Perhaps, they are just too cheap.

Businesses often don’t answer the telephone, return calls, or respond to email messages because it is cheaper to do less. The culture avoids expense, employees are a tool, and their customer service is an afterthought. They do this mostly because it is cheaper.

The big box stores, the superstore on the web, and your local (Dollar General) dollar store don’t have the best price because they are cheap. They often have the best price and good service because they have appropriately scaled. In other cases, their brand sets expectations lower. In either case, this is strategy, not a feeling of necessity.

Sweatshop Mentality

Businesses that try to underprice their competition in the hope that they’ll build momentum have a strategy too. The problem may be that they lack scale and when they lack scale, they are going to use resources to either gain scale or accept less profit.

Accepting less profit sometimes means paying the workforce less, so they then become a sweatshop. The sweatshop model not only lacks customer service but it also typically lacks talent.

A lack of talent is often a condition associated with cheap customer service. Not just because they don’t pay well, but also because it is part of their culture to just not pay. The underlying principle is money out, never equates to money in.

Cheap Vendors

A culture that insists on the concept of, the lowest price wins, probably also seeks the cheapest vendor. Cheap vendors are probably also using the strategy of low price builds volume. Therefore, the cheapest vendor is cutting every corner living just on the edge, somewhere between failure and survival.

What happens next? The vendor provides bad quality or poor service. Now the business who hired them must reject the work or else they face with delivering an inferior product or service. Often they choose to deliver inferior quality because it is cheaper.

What happens when you have cheap customer service? Some may survive, living just on that edge. Others may be bought by an organization that is improving by building scale.

Cheap Customer Service

Cheap customer service isn’t really a strategy. It develops from a strategy and becomes part of your culture.

There is an alternative. Don’t become a culture of cheap.

I think the alternative is much better.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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vendor abuse

Have You Heard of Vendor Abuse?

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Vendor abuse isn’t a joke, it is a real thing. While I like to position most of my writing with a swing towards the positive, I feel this is an important issue.

Let me start by providing a little background about a situation I recently witnessed.

Background

I was at a local printing and office supply superstore. Unfortunately, I was behind the counter, working on my order from the day before. That is another story, which I will address in a minute.

While I was behind the counter a gentleman approached the store personnel expressing the urgency of some documents he needed printed and bound. My back was towards him but I overheard the exchange. He expressed that he needed these documents and that they were court ordered.

The store personnel were very courteous and respectful. I was listening. I had my customer service antenna tuned in. They expressed that they were operating under an extreme overload and couldn’t promise his work to be completed within three hours which was his request.

After some back and forth discussion he handed over materials for copying and the understanding was that they couldn’t promise binding but they could provide the duplication. They moved his order to the front of the line (ignoring an already existing backlog) and he walked away.

Work In Progress

They started his copy order and their high speed machines were happily spitting out lots of paper. About five minutes later, he returned to the counter and asked for his original copies back. Once again, although my back was turned my customer service ears were on.

The personnel somewhat surprised said that his order was running and as I looked over my shoulder that person pointed to a now three to four inch high stack of paper, it was the output from his order. Long story short, he demanded his originals, and left the store. He never paid a dime.

Apparently, during his five minute absence he walked out of the store and telephoned a competing business. They must have offered to meet his deadline.

I’m not an attorney, but guess what? He is an attorney. The court ordered documents he needed were connected with his professional work. Now, although I’m not an attorney I would like to suggest that there was a contract. The moment he agreed to the printing and handed over the documents he was on the hook for the order.

Vendor Abuse

I’m a person who believes in doing the right thing. I believe in living up to what I promised. No, the customer isn’t always right. Yes, this is an inappropriate way to treat a vendor. I call it vendor abuse and his behavior, multiplied, is exactly why you and I have to pay more.

Perhaps needless to say, the store had to throw away in my estimate 750 to 1000 sheets of paper. It was not their fault. They were actually going out of their way to help.

Behind the Counter

What was I doing behind the counter? My order from the day before which had some very specific instructions connected with the binding was not assembled correctly. I could have stomped up and down or I could have pitched a fit. I also could have walked out and called a competitor.

Instead, I was behind the counter helping to make an unintentional mistake better. Starting over, especially with another vendor would have cost me much more. This store has good people. They are hard working and are part of the community. They shouldn’t be abused or intentionally misused.

I wonder how Mr. Attorney treated the next vendor, and what about the clients he represents.

Hash tag – shaking my head. Hash tag – vendor abuse!

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service for vendors

Is Customer Service For Vendors?

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Let’s get this straight. You give a vendor a purchase order and the vendor gives you an invoice. It isn’t the other way around. What about customer service techniques or etiquette, does that apply to both sides of a transaction? Is customer service for vendors?

Customer service might mean more than just providing fast, friendly, and kind interactions with your customers. Perhaps it should apply to all scenarios.

Sometimes your vendor might be a website, but chances are good there is still some human interaction somewhere. One of the goals of exceptional customer service is to make people feel good. We strive to make them feel valued, important, and respected.

Vendors are people too. It might matter which side of the transaction you are on, but shouldn’t both sides feel good about the business? Of course they should.

Customer Service for Vendors

Here are a few fundamentals that should easily apply from customer to vendor:

  • Courtesy. Yes, you’re likely pushing hard for a great price, exceptional terms, and fast delivery. Negotiation means that both sides are willing to compromise. Negotiating hard makes good business sense but you can still be courteous in your demeanor.
  • Follow Up. You expect your vendor to follow up with status. You expect follow up if they encounter any delays or problems. As the customer, shouldn’t you have a responsibility to keep the vendor informed if there are any changes on your end?  The answer is easy, “Yes!”
  • Thank You. Who should express thanks and appreciation? You are both in this together. It should be a partnership. Extending kindness, expressing appreciation, and showing that you care is a two-way street.

Do You Choose Sides?

Certainly, the vendor side of any transaction has some differences when compared with the customer side. Do we really need to choose sides? Technically, yes, we do. However, in the spirit of a healthy relationship it really doesn’t matter which side you are on.

Do good business. Be appropriately assertive.

Relationships are about people.

Give good service.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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