The Best Way To Prevent Destroying Valuable Customer Relationships and Business

I have no intention of making this blog a rant. Nearly everything published here is based on a lesson learned from first hand experience. I have learned my best teachers are those people and those situations that have attempted to cause me the most pain. The most recent example follows.

“Major Email Marketing Support Company Does It’s Best To Fire A Terrific Excellent Paying Client For No Reason”

The number of third party applications developed to support sending messages to large mailing lists is quite large. However at the really large volume level there are not that many companies that are rally in the game. However, landing a high volume, high profile account is time consuming and expensive. When a new account is added to the portfolio that is a moment that should be celebrated.

I work with a high profile company with a very large list of customers that are sent graphical promotions multiple times a month. A significant sum of money is spent for the third party solution that was selected last year. This number is growing as the list builds. The company does not mind because the campaigns I developed have exceeded the most optimistic projections.

For the past several week we have been building the structure for a new campaign and today was finally launch day. Launch day is really exciting because at the push of a button, we literally watch the traffic increase rapidly and the on line cash register ring ka-ching at a rapid fire rate. No matter how many times we have that experience it is always exciting.

At 4:30 PM we were ready. The time was perfect for our target audience. Several gathered in the control room and I was holding the launch button. Go – log into our account and ….hold on. Mission control we seem to have a problem. There seems to be a minute glitch with a very minor amount of fees that had not cleared our account. Not a big deal as I have access to several of the corporate credit cards that have, well let’s say plenty of room. Enter some data and bam – declined. Enter another card ..bam declined and account locked.

So now I call the company. The lady answering the phone had a very pleasant southern accent and almost cried on queue when I explained the situation. She asked me to hold while she frantically attempted to find someone in “billing”. A few minutes later she explained it was 4:46 PM on the East Coast where their offices were and everyone had left for the day.

I then had a brilliant idea. I will call sales since that is the department always aggressive for new business. I had a couple of cards I was prepared to play. Their voice mail said they worked until 6PM. But nobody was available meaning nobody was in and it was 4:48PM. I was out of options. Campaign on hold. From past experience I knew how much an overnight delay would cost in lost revenue and the picture is not pretty. Leave it go – deal with it in the morning.

Shift gears with me for a minute. I have built companies from nothing to reasonably good volume. The business I am working with now started from scratch. We understand the foundation business principles. We know all about the importance of serving customers. I feel very confident the owner of the email delivery sevice company whose employees were nearly all gone by 5PM would be able to give a long speech on taking care of the customer. So how does this all unravel?

I am glad you asked. First I will answer that question and next I will give you the solution to the problem.

What Happened:

We waited until the next morning then called. A lady in billing cleared the minor problem and said our account should never have been blocked. We agree. The mailing went out and we still had a successful campaign, but there was a substantial level of ill will. I asked to be contacted by the owner of the email marketing company. I asked to be contacted by customer service. I asked to be called by sales. The only response was about a week later a customer satisfaction form was sent to me and I never was called. Will the company select another email marketing service provider? We are evaluating alternatives

The Solution:

In every business I ever owned, worked in as an employee or worked with as a consultant, there was an “A List” Sure the goal is to treat every customer and prospect with respect and with a sincere attitude they are important. The art of the practical is the A List customers spend a lot of money and require a process in place to recognize when they need assistance. The best process I have found is have well defined accountability for these accounts. One point of contact that has the knowledge and experience to make a decision on the spot and knows when to obtain advice if necessary. There are other solutions but this one is absolutely the best.

I welcome your comments.

Are you a business owner with revenue in excess of $5 million annually wondering if you are on the right track? Email Me to schedule a FREE 30-60 minute Consultation

Be well and prosper
Steve Pohlit

PS This is not an isolated incident. I could write a completely different set of facts about a company that has a trouble ticket system we are looking to buy and another company that has a technology solution we did buy. Customer support is pathetic and represents a great opportunity for those dedicated to “walking the talk” of outstanding customer service.