I just got some lousy customer service from a gazillion-dollar consultant.
He’s famous for earning — no, let me say, raking in — enormous sums every year. He charges premium prices for his services. I was especially interested in his take on a particular topic. I had an hour and wanted to listen to it right away, so for the third time I decided to purchase something — in this case, an MP3 recording — from him.
Placing my order for a recorded teleconference, I got a message that my purchase was pending vendor approval. Strange, I thought, that a vendor needed to approve a sale, but I chalked it up to slow computers on Cyber Monday.
Hearing nothing for a day, I wrote, “Dear friends, yesterday I tried to purchase the November teleconference recording. The status on the receipt showed as “pending.” So far I have not received a link to download the teleconference. Can you help me?”
The response: “Patience, we received your order today, you’ll get it tomorrow.”
It would not occur to me to respond to a client in such a back-of-the-hand manner. I was shocked by the lack of regard.
It made me think about what it means to have a client.
Ask a group of business owners, “what is a client?”, and you’ll typically get answers like:
- a client is someone who pays you money
- a client buys something from you
- a client is your best opportunity for more sales
And all of those may be true, but they don’t define a client. Originally, a client meant “someone who has come under your protection.” We hear this meaning still in terms like “a client state,” meaning a country that is dependent on another nation.
Our clients rely on us. They look to us for conscientious service. They look to us for help. It is possible to abuse them, to treat them with disregard, but it’s not wise. It lacks integrity.
Once someone becomes a client and comes under our protection, why would we not do our utmost to provide the help they seek?
We may need on many occasions to challenge or correct our clients. We may need to contradict them. But there is never a need to be dismissive. There’s never a good reason to give sub-par service. Of course if there is a client who asks too much of us, we should separate ourselves from them as soon as possible. A client who needs more than we are willing or able to provide should be given an immediate refund and sent on their way. But as long as they are still our client, they deserve our best.
My expenditure with Mr. Gazillion Dollar Consultant was a mere $150, but the education I got in how NOT to treat a client was just about priceless.
Is there a way in which you could give your clients better service? A way to serve them with more dignity? A way to meet their needs faster or better? What have you learned from sub-par treatment as a client? Please share your lessons by leaving a comment here.