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I got better customer service from my client than I gave them

 

 

Awarded the

“RodinStar” Post 

of the week!!

 

I had two choices after a tough, brutal day at work today … go and blow off some steam by watching the latest Hobbit movie on IMAX … or write to my friends on TRHS.

Damn you guys … I’m sitting here and typing this.
I choose TRHS over IMAX.
Another four-letter word comes to mind, now that I think about it.

Choices. Thats all we do as entrepreneurs. Choose.
Your choice can be right or can be wrong. Either way, that only leads to the next choice. Choices.

How the customer service I got from my client was better than what I gave to them? 

I broke my own most important professional rule today. I got angry at a client on the phone.

Backstory #1 … so I have a customer who ordered something small. I mean, the total bill was Rs. 129 including shipping. It’s so tiny that it didn’t even reach my desk. It was handled by the logistics guy and accounts team like a dozen other packages each day.

Ebay shows us the clients mobile number + address and my team put the same on the package.

Turns out that the number was the customer’s old number back when he opened his ebay account. He had entered his new number in the order details but somehow (a bug in ebay?) ebay didn’t show us the new number.

So after a lot of back & forth, the package was being returned by the courier guys.

Backstory #2 … I’ve had a series of calls with a customer today who is overdue on payments. One of them had committed this monday (15th Dec) and now his senior/manager says “oh, we meant next monday 22nd”. I know they were lying, but couldn’t do anything about it other than slap my hand on my table in frustration. Many times. Damn, my palms hurt now.

This got me extremely angry and frustrated. Believe me, I was a nasty person to be around today.

Backstory #1 and #2 together

So with this mindset of “delayed payments” and “customer lied to me” … I get on a call with the client from backstory #1 above.

Now, this poor chap is trying to explain to me that his ebay screen shows his new number. My company ebay screen shows his old number. Tu Tu. Main Main. Goes on for a while.

And somewhere, in all this, my brain F’s up and mixes the frustration of the “lying, not paying on time customer” with this guy who genuinely thinks he has put in the correct details. And he paid ebay in advance.

Irrespective of whose fault it was, he paid in advance. As far as both he and I are concerned, he was being a good customer.

Let me repeat that: Paid in  ADVANCE 
You are a dumb-ass marwari (or any entrepreneur) if you cannot value a customer who pays in advance.

And I got angry with him on the phone with the final words being to the effect of “fine, email me a screenshot of your computer and then we’ll see”. Basically I said he was lying unless he proves otherwise.
I’m being very mild here in this article because I know it will be publicly read. But you get the idea?!

I’ve spent a lifetime training myself and others on my team on this single most important rule “don’t get angry in front of the customer, irrespective of whose fault it is”. Deal with it later after you’ve cooled down. But don’t get angry IN FRONT OF THE CUSTOMER.

Now, this guy could have ripped into me, shouted back and used bad language .
Instead I get this email from him:

“One thing i suggest you plz be cool you were very frustrated. things happens like this even i am not that much worried about my order”

And with those words … he’s shown what it means to have a “customer service mindset”. He’s shown who was the better man today.

And I cannot thank him enough.
It’s affected me enough to get me thinking straight and write this article.
Maybe I’m not the cool-daddy of great customer service I always saw myself as.

I was the loser.
I was the ass.
I messed up.
My client did not.
All I can do from this is learn and hope I don’t do this again in the future. 

As a small token of my thanks, I’m making sure he gets 3x the stuff he ordered + some Dairy Milks and a handwritten apology note from me.

It isn’t enough. But it’s a start. 

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6 Comments

  1. vinit,

    i haven’t come across many folks who admit they were wrong. and then go on to tell everyone that they were wrong! 

    thank you for sharing this lesson with us – we all need a reminder. 

    no wonder why those STAY CALM posters are so popular 🙂

    ps: i spoiled the top of your post…. happy friday!!

  2. This happens to all of us man. My guess is, a lot of entrepreneurs will be able to relate to this, I sure can 🙂 

    Its big of you to come out and accept it 🙂 

  3. Hi Vinit

    Good Post, Dealing with different kind of customers is intricate task. i know 🙂  luck is that you got a good customer who understood you, these type of customers are rare. really saying they are rare. I always believe that if you want to loose a bad relationship which is linked with money, then pay that money and remove that relationship. If you want to get a good relationship which is linked with money, then pay that money and get that relationship. Common thing is money. You will be loosing a little bit money in a day, but that money might turn a bad customer to good customer. or a good customer to a best customer. 

    Hope you understood 🙂

    All the best

    Thanks & Regards

    Sai Pothuri

  4. wow… thats a tough confession

  5. Vinit,

    Its takes some serious “walnuts” to make a confessions like this. I can hear hundreds of entrepreneurs silently thanking you.

    Even though its innately sewn into every sales guy’s DNA, to not lose your cool with a client, especially when its due to external/personal factors, most of them end up doing so and regretting later.

    Next time, someone is on the verge of doing so, your post is gonna spring to their mind and pipe down the anger.

    Kudos and thank you once again.

    PS: And hats off to your client for his composure and the gesture you made thereafter.

  6. This is a lesson for everybody in every field (Not just an Entrepreneur)  . We often misplace our anger to the wrong person  who don’t have any role behind the anger  .You are very  lucky to have a customer like this . He deserves an apology . In the end,it was a nice gesture from your side 🙂 .

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