I had another post planned for today, but something is making me pretty mad — the increasing disregard of manufacturers and shops in this world for customer service.
Needlepoint people and this includes shopowners are patient. It’s not as if we expect our canvases to be shipped out immediately, but everyone’s patience can wear thin.
In the past few weeks here is a sample of what I’ve been treated to, all from companies I work with often.
— A thread company that did not even process the order I gave them by phone until I had called a second time to ask where my order was.
— A thread company that promised follow-up on a query and then never checked to see if the employee had done it for over 2 months. And this is about the third time this has happened.
— A thread company who has colored pictures of their thread on-line but when you use them to order, the thread that comes is nothing like the color shown. We’re not talking a slight difference, it’s as if the thread pictured was shades of violet and the thread you got was violet and red. How can you plan? How can you order on-line? How do I, as a teacher, specify these threads?
— A canvas designer who has not even gone through all the show orders six weeks after the show. Good as it could have been, no show is THAT busy. And once the order is processed it could still be 6-8 weeks before the canvas is shipped.
— Websites with “What’s New” pages months to years out-of-date. Or no information about how to contact them.
— Newsletters and ads that promote items and send you to the website but that information isn’t there.
That’s just been the past few weeks. In the face of many companies that give outstanding customer service, this kind of poor business practice is not excusable.
Especially when it is so simple.
You contact people within 24 hours, An email acknowledging the order, a phone call back. This is sales 101.
You check that items given to others to do are done.
Your pictures of products match the products themselves. With more people ordering on-line this is increasingly important and will save you trouble, dissatisfied customers and returns.
Your website has contact information, maybe not everything but at least an email. How can I buy from you if I can’t find you?
Ads, especially, need to be done weeks or months in advance of printing. If you promote something in an ad, put it on the website immediately. Even if the page is just a picture, the quick description from the ad and call/email us to order, I won’t be frustrated and go someplace else. You’ll get the sale based on the interest you generated with the ad.
Your website only tells me what’s new if it really is new. Six months ago is not new, even three months ago isn’t new.
Look at orders as you get them, even if it’s lots of them, even if it is only to do triage to handle the easiest and most important ones first. No one expects you to have no life, but seriously six weeks to look at an order someone is paying for?
Nothing here is hard, nothing here is rocket science. You’ll find it in business books on customer service. You treat people fairly. You contact them. You respect that they chose your company. You make it easy and pleasurable for them to buy from you. You treat them the way you want to be treated as a customer.
No this may not make you tons of money. But if you treat customers right, they will come back to you and recommend you to others. And isn’t that worth it?