Be Smart About Art

Poor customer service? Stand up for yourself (and your business)

written by: Susan J Mumford July 8, 2018 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 756 views

Poor customer service? Stand up for yourself (and your business)

“You get what you pay for,” is a frequently quoted saying. Yet, what happens when you’re paying for a service and have a poor experience? 

This is a reality of business, no matter the intentions. 

Consider this real-life experience of my own, as a customer: 

I received an email from my hosting provider, notifying us of an upcoming change to our email server. This would require action to be taken on our part in order to maintain email services. An attachment with instructions was provided. 

There was no deadline associated with the gentle email, which gave the impression that this initial communication was a heads-up. I didn’t action anything, and relegated it to the ‘future IT’ pile.

Fast forward two weeks later, after arriving in New York City for business. En route to an event that I was running at an art fair, the email system went down... except I didn’t yet know it. Following the event, I chatted with people and eventually sat down to compose an overview of the occasion, which was set to be included in a weekend email blast with the fair. While it seemed that incoming email wasn’t working, there were no failure notices for outgoing emails. We had previously experienced temporary glitches, so dI idn’t think much of it. 

As of the following Monday, it was clear that email had stopped working in entirety. The fair post hadn’t been published, as the message hadn’t been received. To cut a long and painful story short, days of incoming emails were never received, and I spent many hours not only working out the new email system, but getting onto calls with team members to get them set up, too. The timing was terrible, as precious hours while on an international trip were being eaten by this email kerfuffle. While prioritising the email system was the right choice in order to keep the business running, it was frustrating. 

What had happened? It turns out that my company was the only business out of several hundred that had not received further communication. All other businesses were sent emails that provided the deadline for making the switch and were chased beyond that. Although they had a spreadsheet of clients to ensure that everyone made the switch, we were missed (except for the initial heads-up). 

The founder of the hosting company gently offered doing something in lieu of what had taken place, yet I never heard more of this. When the invoice for services was eventually received, I replied to the book-keeper, with the owner copied into the message, to explain what had happened and asked what they would like to do about it. 

The response was fantastic: they wrote off not only one quarter’s invoice, but two. Considering the stress experienced, lack of email immediately following an important event, the loss of publicity with the fair and the vast number of hours taken from an international business trip, it felt right. I thanked the company and their brand was saved in my eyes! 

When you have a similar experience, I urge you to stand up for yourself and your enterprise. Suppliers who are interested in maintaining your long-term business will do the right thing, as happened in this example. Don’t ask, don’t get. 

As for when you fail to deliver? I urge you to do the right thing, too.


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