Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

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Dec
18

Hey Service Providers: I’m Givin’ You One Chance to do the Right Thing

Is service continuing to go downhill or am I just getting more picky?  You’d think in a problematic economy, service – just about the easiest thing to quickly improve and adapt – would be great almost everywhere one turns.   After all, it’s an easy differentiator.  I just don’t see it.  In fact, even considering that I’m feeling like a kinder, gentler and more understanding kinda’ guy these days (don’t laugh, compared to 10 years ago, I’m downright mellow), I’m routinely astonished with how bad service has gotten from sectors ranging from corporate professional services to the guy who plows my driveway.

There are many, of course, who after getting poor service immediately punt on the provider.  I can’t fault this tactic since there often are few excuses for poor service and there are other providers to reward with one’s hard-earned cash.  In the past, I was usually in this camp.  More people, however, roll their eyes, keep quiet and continue to use the service provider regardless of the quality of their performance.  Many of us have just come to expect bad service and assume that it’s bad everywhere.  I’m afraid that there are times when I have been in this camp as well.  Just too lazy to make a change or educate the provider to help improve the service for me or others.

A couple of months ago, I decided to take a new and more consistent tack.  Everyone makes mistakes, so if a service provider I’m using makes one, I give him/her a break – exactly once.  I simply inform them of the mistake they made and leave it up to them to do the right thing.  What’s the right thing?  Well, it varies, but at a minimum, it includes a sincere apology and some additional ass-kissing like having the service rendered for free or at a time/place/price that benefits me in some way.  That’s it, you get one shot.  If you choose not to deliver or you’re just too ignorant to, I’ll go elsewhere.  I think it’s a comfortable and fair model that I can implement without hesitation in all circumstances.

This got me thinking about entrepreneurs with service components in their offerings.  Is service seen as a necessary evil or is it part of the differentiating strategy?  When you think of yourself as a product company alone, for example, the services you provide – yes, including basic training and support – can be treated as ugly stepchildren.  Even great products can be completely derailed in the market with something as small as crappy support forum response times.  Services are often the most visible part of the company.  Getting them right can mean the difference between corporate success and failure.  Are you delivering them well?  If you screw them up, are you doing the right thing?

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 December 18th, 2009  
 Will  
 Customer Focus, Misc Thoughts  
   
 8 Comments

8 Responses to Hey Service Providers: I’m Givin’ You One Chance to do the Right Thing

  1. haa.. I started writing a blog along these exact same lines today. The problem is my issues are mostly with Google and Facebook (products and APIs), not exactly something that can be easily replaced or ignored. I’m trying to build a product/service solution centered around their products but I know I can’t guarantee the support I WANT to provide because I don’t get any support. No timing, feedback, and most products don’t even have issue trackers or change logs. Quality is horrible but 90% of their users just accept it. I remember those days when support mattered and wonder what happened. Hopefully the future will tend to reward products and services that treat customers with the respect they deserve!

  2. haa.. I started writing a blog along these exact same lines today. The problem is my issues are mostly with Google and Facebook (products and APIs), not exactly something that can be easily replaced or ignored. I’m trying to build a product/service solution centered around their products but I know I can’t guarantee the support I WANT to provide because I don’t get any support. No timing, feedback, and most products don’t even have issue trackers or change logs. Quality is horrible but 90% of their users just accept it. I remember those days when support mattered and wonder what happened. Hopefully the future will tend to reward products and services that treat customers with the respect they deserve!

  3. Anyone, even Google, who continually abuses their customers (especially when they’re developers) is gonna pay eventually. It’s a shame, of course, that people capitulate just because it’s Google.

  4. Anyone, even Google, who continually abuses their customers (especially when they’re developers) is gonna pay eventually. It’s a shame, of course, that people capitulate just because it’s Google.

  5. snip I figure that flawless service is just about impossible, when one has a positive or overwhelmingly positive service call, that’s what clinches the deal for me. Since time is money, I rarely do price comparison between vendors when the additional time can not possibly be justified. I like to refer to my go to suppliers/vendors as being like cruise missles, you fire them a PO and they’re going to hit the target smack on. If there is a problem, they’ll fix it. I can’t think that I am unique in this regard. Being a vendor myself, I’ve found that the customers that focus solely on price are typically more difficult to deal with in the end, they require more hand holding, change they’re mind and don’t realize the incredible value they are getting.

    I did some a job for Sandia once, saw an opportunity to save them about $2,000 for an order of 10 pieces (a custom machined) with a redesign that we engineered. They spent more time and money with PhD’s in a room debating if it would work then we spent building the first 10 prototypes (I guaranteed the results, if it didn’t work I would eat the order, I was that condfident), worked like a champ. Two months later, I get another RFQ, I quote $1,200 for the job, then don’t hear a thing okay, they probably changed their mind. Finally I called one of my contacts there after about 6 months, he was embarresed to tell my they (it wasn’t his suggestion) picked another vendor who bid $1,000. NONE of the 10 units worked, now here is the part I really love, it makes it all worthwhile, they gave that vendor another chance in the form of another $1,000 PO, cause well they needed these parts, and of course, since they had already lost $1,000, they could afford us at $1,200. I think you can guess what happend, yep, the second lot of 10, NONE of them worked either! Oh the third order, never was placed, they had gone over budget on the project and shut it down. Value/Price: “The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” —Sir Henry Royce

    You really want the customers that understand VALUE. Top notch service is one very important component to this. Adding that extra value is small compared to the additional margin it will command and level/type of customer you will be dealing with (on average). This has consistently been my experience.

    john

  6. snip I figure that flawless service is just about impossible, when one has a positive or overwhelmingly positive service call, that’s what clinches the deal for me. Since time is money, I rarely do price comparison between vendors when the additional time can not possibly be justified. I like to refer to my go to suppliers/vendors as being like cruise missles, you fire them a PO and they’re going to hit the target smack on. If there is a problem, they’ll fix it. I can’t think that I am unique in this regard. Being a vendor myself, I’ve found that the customers that focus solely on price are typically more difficult to deal with in the end, they require more hand holding, change they’re mind and don’t realize the incredible value they are getting.

    I did some a job for Sandia once, saw an opportunity to save them about $2,000 for an order of 10 pieces (a custom machined) with a redesign that we engineered. They spent more time and money with PhD’s in a room debating if it would work then we spent building the first 10 prototypes (I guaranteed the results, if it didn’t work I would eat the order, I was that condfident), worked like a champ. Two months later, I get another RFQ, I quote $1,200 for the job, then don’t hear a thing okay, they probably changed their mind. Finally I called one of my contacts there after about 6 months, he was embarresed to tell my they (it wasn’t his suggestion) picked another vendor who bid $1,000. NONE of the 10 units worked, now here is the part I really love, it makes it all worthwhile, they gave that vendor another chance in the form of another $1,000 PO, cause well they needed these parts, and of course, since they had already lost $1,000, they could afford us at $1,200. I think you can guess what happend, yep, the second lot of 10, NONE of them worked either! Oh the third order, never was placed, they had gone over budget on the project and shut it down. Value/Price: “The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” —Sir Henry Royce

    You really want the customers that understand VALUE. Top notch service is one very important component to this. Adding that extra value is small compared to the additional margin it will command and level/type of customer you will be dealing with (on average). This has consistently been my experience.

    john

  7. Google maps, the Garmin is not connected and has all its map info on board. The Garmin map data is also displayed on a much smaller screen.
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  8. I know I can’t guarantee the support I WANT to provide because I don’t know it.
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