She picked up the phone and said: “Yes, I did receive your email”. That was my potential client’s Internal Communication Specialist who I had been trying to get in touch with for over a week. But let’s start from the beginning…
One day in 2016 I received a written confirmation that a reputable company had hired me as a speaker at their internal event. There was only one detail missing in that email — the fee. So I kindly replied asking to confirm the amount we had agreed on a few days earlier on the phone.
The reply was fast. To my great surprise the amount “confirmed” by email was half of the sum we had agreed on. I decided to clarify and replied that I’d love to work with them, but we need to stick to the original amount and there must be a mistake. Then I waited for a reply.
A few days passed, nothing happened. I tried calling, but nobody was picking up. I didn’t expect much, just some closure. Like a short message: “Thanks for your effort. We can’t fit it into our budget this time”. As in the meantime another client asked if this date was available, I was under even more pressure to know the final decision.
After I had lost faith and started focused on other projects, unexpectedly — after 10 days, I called the client’s representative and managed to get in touch with them. The only thing she said was “Yes, I got your email” — which, I assume, meant “Thank you for your time”.
I understand that she might have been busy as organizing an event can be challenging. Looking back it is not such a big deal at all. The point is to pay attention to details and small gestures that do not cost much like picking up the phone or replying to email. I believe it signals respect to the business partner who we may meet later on.
Could this little incident have a butterfly effect that will eventually decrease sales?
What if it went like this:
- Someone feels irritated by the behaviour and associates it with the brand XYZ the employee represents.
This person shares their experience with her friend who is asking an opinion about XYZ.
Since in a competitive market a buyer can make a decision based on customer service, such a story may persuade him to turn down XYZ’s offer.
This incident multiplied by the employee’s careless behavior and the number of people searching for advice… How many customers would they lose?
3 simple tips
How to handle such situations from the company’s perspective?
Emphasize the significance of handling external communication in a compassionate manner while paying adequate respect to service providers of any size. You can show this story to your team as an example.
Bring entrepreneurship trainings to your team, so they can see the big picture of your business. Entrepreneurs on average have better understanding of the business as a whole. Such trainings can improve a team member’s engagement and encourage proactive attitude towards problem solving.
Obviously, you’ve already been sending out customer satisfaction surveys. Empower transparence by introducing feedback forms for your service providers, who can comment on the quality of interaction with your company.
Have you experienced a situation in which you felt ignored as a buyer?
How do you set communication standards for people from outside of the procurement department, who deal with suppliers?