When I was young my dad used to say, ”The customer is always right”. He also said “You catch more flies with honey.” Kill them with kindness… that’s another cliche that comes to mind. Yesterday I voiced a concern with a company owner regarding the bags that I have been having produced for sale in my studio and at shows. I hoped that my dissatisfaction would elicit a response like, ” How can we make this right with you?” or, “Your business is important to us, how can we resolve this issue?” Boy was I wrong to think that would happen. Instead, the business owner denied any responsibility for a miscommunication and became defensive.
This is interesting timing as the subject of this week’s sermon was conflict resolution. So, with the words of the sermon in mind, I tried to express my point to the woman at the other end of an email. To say that things went downhill quickly is an understatement. She continued to be defensive and argumentative. I must admit, I did get a bit sarcastic when she said she “assumed” I would want something done a certain way. I just replied “For future reference, never assume.” I politely left out the rest of that saying. The resolution was, I informed the young lady that I will no longer be doing business with this upstart company. I found her to be very unprofessional and the product I was purchasing from her was not worth the hassle. I followed our minister’s advice and when compromise was not an option, I walked away.
So,why did this keep ME awake last night? I am not the one who lost a customer. I guess I am so unaccustomed to conflict that it left me feeling sad. I have certainly worked with enough surly teenagers in my day to be able to get through to this young lady… but no. What can I learn from this situation? #1. I will NEVER treat a customer of mine with anything but respect and gratitude. I hate to use the phrase, “in this economy” but it applies here. When someone wants to buy an item that is not a necessity in these challenging times, it is such a special thing. #2.Places of business that pride themselves on customer service should be recognized. I think I will write a note to a couple places I frequent and commend them on the excellent service that brings me back time and again. That was another thing my father taught me. Thank the people who work with and for you when they do a good job. #3. Maybe in this world of instant communication through texts, emails and tweets, we should all take the time to pick up the phone to actually make a call and talk to someone directly. Would we actually say those things if we were speaking to them directly, or even, face to face? I doubt it. Food for thought.
Please enjoy a new piece that I just finished. It is called “Lemon” and is about to find a new home in a child’s room.