When you run a business where over 95% of the customers stay with you, losing a customer can be emotionally very painful. That too, losing a customer for a wrong reason. More so when it is a customer you respect and you value and you have served for many years faithfully.
This whole thing may sound sentimental and for that reason, somewhat silly in a business environment. One has so many customers and losing one of them cannot or should not cause any emotional trauma.
But this is not the culture of VG. We value our customers, we hold them dear and they mean a lot more to us than just a number on the customer list. We remember the efforts we put in to acquire this customer and the trouble we took to please him and make sure that he was a happy and satisfied customer.
Again, more than anything, we seem to have lost this customer because of an error in communication. We circulated an email to all our customers and we had carefully worded the email. Perhaps it is a misfortune that this valued customer could read more into the email than was intended. We do not find fault with him. When we revisited the wording, we realized that there could be a different interpretation of what we had stated and based on this our valued customer had taken action.
Sometimes, it is very difficult if not impossible to reverse the course of events, no matter how hard you try. Explaining to the customer, pleading with him, offering other concessions in order to reverse the customer’s decision did not work. We are reminded of the passage from Omar Khayyam “The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit shall lose it back to cancel half a line nor all the tears wash out a word of it.”
We have to live with our customer’s decision till we get another opportunity to serve this customer in the not too distant future. The lesson for us is to read, reread any email communication to multiple customers and make sure that the wordings will not lend themselves to a different interpretation. Given the vagaries of the English language, it is a hard task but we will make sure that our communication is clear and unambiguous.
We are not ashamed about owning up to our sentimental attachment to our customers. This is what keeps us going. We don’t feel that we are serving an organization. We always feel that we are serving certain individuals in the customer’s organization. This is what makes it personal and sentimental. We never want to become so big that the personal touch with the customer will be lost and the relationship becomes impersonal. In the training imparted to sales people, it is repeatedly emphasized that you are not selling a product or service to another company. You’re selling to an individual in that company and therefore you have to understand his likes and dislikes. Unless he likes you, no deal will go through, however attractive your product or service may be.
The same thing applies when you provide a service. The individuals are more important than the organization.
We are celebrating our 30th Anniversary. Therefore, permit us to dwell on customer relationships which has enabled us to survive so long!
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