I would like to start this blog with an apology. It seems that many of these blogs involve me complaining about one thing or another, typically customer service situations. But in my defense, I think that customer service is going downhill and that needs to be addressed. So here I am, back again with yet another story about poor service, but hopefully it will have a positive outcome and inspire you to step it up in your own business!
I wrote in a previous blog about my best friend’s passing in September. Lindsay had ovarian cancer, and her family is really working hard to help the Vicki Welsh Fund get the message out there about this horrible disease. This weekend, they are throwing out the first pitch at a softball game that is being held in honor of Lindsay to raise awareness for
ovarian cancer. What a great cause! They decided they would like to have shirts made for the game, so at a moment when my creative juices were flowing, I designed a shirt and reached out to a few printing companies to see what could be done to make my design a reality. I sent detailed messages, explaining what the shirts were for, when I would need them, approximately how many I would need and I also attached pictures of my design so they would know what they were working with. Seeing as these are locally owned businesses, I was fully expecting out of this world customer service, because small businesses cannot typically afford to offer any less. However, I was unpleasantly surprised with what actually happened. I sent my first emails 10 days before I would need the shirts, knowing this would give everyone plenty of time to complete the project. However, FIVE days later I was shocked to find myself following up with all three companies as none of them had given me a quote yet. One of them responded right away with “$25.00.” That was literally the only thing in the email body; no salutation, no apology for taking so long. Just numbers. In my mind, I immediately crossed this company off the list, vowing that even if the others were more expensive I would not give this company my business. The next company emailed back with “Send me your artwork, we can get those made this week.” Ok, that’s nice, but you still haven’t told me how much it will cost! So I responded, AGAIN asking for a quote and waited for the response. It did not come for two more days. This was three days before I needed the shirts done; could they even make them in that short of a time? I’ll never know, because I gave that company the boot as well. The company I ended up using was the lesser of three evils, which as you’ve seen is not saying much. In their favor, they did send a nice email apologizing for taking so long and included a quote for the shirts. I collected orders from Lindsay’s family members and sent them right over to the shirt company. I was hoping for confirmation that the order had been received, as we were working on a pretty tight deadline at this point, but of course that didn’t come, even after I sent a friendly text checking in. When I did finally get an email, it was all irritating news: 1. When she originally quoted the shirts, she did not include the artwork on the sleeve that was IN PLAIN SIGHT in the picture I sent her. Ok, no big deal. I moved that artwork to the back, keeping us at the same cost. 2. There will be an extra $40 setup charge for any order with less than 24 items. So when I told her we would need 20 shirts, why didn’t she include the $40 in the quote? 3. I would need to convert the artwork to PDF, otherwise there will be an extra $20 charge. $20 to convert to PDF? That is outrageous. Luckily, I have the capability to do so, and therefore avoided that charge. In my final email to her, getting her all of the information she needed to complete the order, I asked for a final total after tax so I could let everyone know before the game on Saturday. I’m still waiting for that response.
Who knew that having t-shirts made could be such an ordeal? Hopefully I will be able to find a quality company to use for the next time we need to do something like this. But in the meantime, I hope this little story will remind you of how important customer service is! Just because you are corresponding through email does not mean you should not use full sentences. Be polite and show your customer that you care. Also, remember to respond! We all get busy and sometimes forget, but if you own a business, you can’t afford to lose customers. Respond in a timely fashion if you want their business. Finally, before you send the email, read through all of your correspondence and make sure all of their questions have been answered. This will save time and allow you to move on to other pressing matters that need your attention.