Excellent Customer Service???

This blog update from author Teri Yanovitch arrived while I was working on this blog, and seemed particularly timely.

Excellent Service in Bad Economy More Important than in Good Economy

 In any environment, providing an excellent level of service is key to attracting and retaining customers. It is especially important now. It's also just good business.

In fact, a slight variation of this idea is the guiding principal of one of my clients. Their business is built entirely on providing excellent customer service and their business philosophy is summed up in the simple statement, "The interests of our customers must come first." As a service provider myself, this simple, elegant, maxim really struck a chord. Take care of your clients, put their needs ahead of your own, always give them more than they ask for and ultimately they will take care of you. And that strategy seems to work well for me. After 22 years, that company remains a client and I have several others of almost similar longevity.

That's why I find a decision by one of the countries largest in house audiovisual companies all the more puzzling. Rather than focus on providing that excellent level of customer service so customers will want to use them, they have instead adopted a unique strategy for building customer relationships - Either use our inhouse AV services or compensate us for the "lost revenue."

Excuse me? Since when is business that you didn't get lost revenue? Being the in house AV provider is not and shouldn't be looked on as a guaranteed road to revenue. Business is not something that can be taken for granted. It is something that is earned day by day, job by job, customer by customer and you earn it by providing customers with outstanding service and therefore a reason to use your company again and again.

It is one thing to be contracted for a job and then have it cancelled after the agreed cancellation date. Then yes, that's lost revenue and some compensation is generally expected and accepted. But how is it lost revenue if I never contacted, never booked and never intended to use in house AV in the first place. What's next? Are hotels, caterers, florists and other AV companies going to start charging clients for bids they submitted but didn't get?

I have a real hard time understanding how this new business model provides the client with better service. How it puts the interests of the customers first. How it builds long term relationships. Oh, I can see the benefit to the venue and I can certainly see the benefits to the In house AV company. But how does a client benefit when they are told, " You either use the In-house AV or you will pay for the privilege of not to using them. In essence forcing clients to use your services or penalizing them when they don't.

Penalizing clients for exercising their right to chose who they want to do their event? It is certainly an interesting new interpretation of the idea of customer service. One that I hope will be short lived.

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