By Marang Marekimane, founder & ceo, Business Process Mechanics
Customers are a key element to the existence of a business. Every entrepreneur, business owner and sales person knows what a battle it can be to find the right customers. When you have those customers, it is how you treat them that will make them come back or refer others to you.
So, does good customer service mean the customer is always right? We've all heard the phrase “The customer is always right”. As a customer this implies you have the right to good service - to most of us that translates to "you will get what you want". To business owners and staff, that translates to "do whatever it takes to keep the customer".
But what if the customer is wrong?
Having worked on customer retention projects for large corporates, I knew from the outset that I needed to include service agreements in all my proposals when I started my own business. It provides a point of reference for both me and the customer, especially when there is a dispute. Nobody cares about agreements when they're happy.
I document business processes (i.e. Process Manuals) and advise on how to improve the business. It typically takes 10-15 days. From time-to-time this takes longer because of some or other delay, mostly the customer not prioritizing the review and signing of the document. Some start making changes to the business before I've even submitted my recommendations. Such delays have made me review my terms of service, especially for projects that stretch beyond the 30-day tolerance. The best lesson has been to divorce customers.
Bill Gates said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Beyond the process manual, there's recommendations on how to improve the business. If you start making changes to the business before I'm done, you are changing the dynamics. This could mean I start again.
But how long is this piece of string?
So, I divorce customers that don't respect my work enough to let me finish - the constant changes and delays affect the quality of my work. This reduces the chances of you referring business my way - especially when you won't admit how you affected the quality.
Like with any divorce, you keep what is rightfully yours – same business challenges, the incomplete document, the outstanding payments. I refer to the terms of service you signed and continue with my work.
My most unhappy customers taught me to review my terms of service. They also taught me, the customer is not always right. At times, I must thank them for their business and let go of them.
Marang Marekimane is the founder and CEO of Business Process Mechanics. You have a specialty, and she’s a specialist at finding tools to automate the business processes. Your vision and her expertise – there are opportunities to increase access to markets, reduce unemployment and scale your business. bizprocessmechanics.co.za
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