It is common, a new rule, something to prevent or curve off potential losses. Unfortunately, many businesses think about customer service as a department, a place that is the caretaker of rules. Be careful what you do to your best customers.
A good friend of mine is avid Harley Davidson guy. He dumps all his pocket change on playing with his Harley Davidson motorcycles. He is known at several dealerships and regularly drops a couple of hundred bucks on a visit.
Recently, he decided to order some new parts. The person at the parts counter explained that he needed to prepay. He never prepaid before.
The parts counter person advised, “It’s a new rule, all customers must prepay for non-stock items.”
He responded back, “Come on, you know I’m good for it.”
The counter person suggested that he didn’t make the rules, but that it applies to everyone.
My friend prepaid, he has the money. The problem is, he felt disrespected, he felt like there is mistrust, and the shop just weakened a previously very strong relationship.
I use a lot of printing services in my business.
My black and white copy business primarily goes to one vendor. It has been that way for many years. I send them a file via email, they know me by name and normally they have a good idea of the specs for my print job.
Recently, I had a job requirement that wasn’t normal, there was also a pending holiday. I wasn’t sure of their business hours or when the job would be finished. In addition to my normal email, I telephoned ahead for clarity.
When I arrived to pick up my finished order, I noticed a new sign. The sign read something like, “All print orders must be prepaid, no exceptions.” Yet, back on the shelf, clearly labeled with my name, my print job was complete and ready to go.
I felt respected. My order mattered. I was important to them and my years of being a good customer made a difference.
I’m not an average customer at the print shop, neither is my buddy at the Harley shop.
Remember your best customers, they are not every customer.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.