#1 Posted: 16 Aug 2012 12:24
We began dealing with a printing business on a fairly regular basis a few years ago. The sales rep first called on us with a personal visit, brought us samples and followed up throughout the process. Our order was also delivered in person by the sales rep. The next several times we ordered, we received the same level of customer service.
Until one day, when we called to order, the sales rep wasn't able to come to us. No problem ... of course we could come to their facility to place our order. Then when the order arrived, instead of delivery by the sales rep, it came via a courier service, for which there was an extra charge added.
We were no longer so happy with the printing company's customer service. We didn't want to come to them every time we needed to place an order. We disputed the extra charge and asked that our price quotes include everything related to the order, and not have an unexpected line item such as "delivery charge" just appear on the final invoice.
The printing company offered a certain level of service the first few times we ordered, and we expected that it would continue. So, why did the service decline?
An old cliché might be used to describe such business situations: The honeymoon is over.
The sales rep wooed us as new customers, but may not even have realized that high expectations were being created. And those expectations were not unreasonable on our part – a printing company that we utilize for other projects continues to offer ongoing personal customer service. That sales rep still comes to us, delivers the order, and more.
It's a shame that this business relationship is now so unsure. We still recognize advantages that the company offers – competitive prices, personable employees, specialized products – but the decline in the level of service we came to expect now has our future in jeopardy. We feel as if we are inconveniencing them if we request a service they once freely offered.
What can we learn from this? In business, the honeymoon should never be over ... the level of customer service you offer from the first "date" (first meeting, order, transaction, etc.) should be a reflection of what the customer can expect. Closing the deal – gaining a new customer or client – is just the start of a long and happy relationship. Don't lose that lovin' feeling – in business the honeymoon should never be over!