Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gene Marks: Are You a Great Customer?

A guest post by Gene Marks

Why I’m In Love With Andrew.  Yes, That’s Right:  Love.

Andrew, I love you.

No, not in that way.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s just that you’re a good guy and I’ve known you for almost ten years now.  You’ve been a great client of ours.  You’re nowhere near our largest.  In fact, I just checked this and I think you paid us less than $2K last year for services.  But that’s completely OK.  Because I look forward to speaking with you.  I’m happy to be your service provider.  I really enjoy doing business with you.  You are the kind of client everyone should have.  And everyone should aspire to be.  Why is that?

For starters, you are nice to me and my people.  You treat us with courtesy.  You offer coffee.  You place us in a nice conference room or cubicle when we come onsite to do work.  Your employees, watching how you act, act the same.  We never feel like villains when we come to your offices.  We appreciate your friendly atmosphere and we like the fact that you and your people treat us like an extension of your own company.  Some of our clients treat us terribly:  their offices are dim and their employees pretend we don’t exist.  It’s as if we’re the enemy.  We’re not.  And we appreciate that you recognize that.

You do what you say you’re going to do.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t.  They sign contracts with us, promising to pay when services are performed, and then we find ourselves chasing them down for money weeks or even months later.  It’s demoralizing, frustrating and unprofitable.  So thank you.  Thank you for paying your bills on time.  Thank you for getting us the materials that we request so we can do our jobs.  Thank you for being there when you say you’ll be there.  Thank you for not keeping us waiting, changing the dates of our visits again and again and letting us know in advance if there are any plans in your company that will affect the services that we’re performing.

You want to learn, not attack.  We provide technology services.  That’s our expertise.  It’s not your expertise.  Thank you for recognizing that.  We appreciate that when you don’t understand something you don’t attack us.  You don’t become defensive.  You don’t unfairly accuse us of taking advantage.  You respect our role and our expertise.  You don’t hide your insecurities or lack of confidence behind an angry tirade to make yourself look better in front of your employees.  You are not afraid to admit that you’re ignorant about certain things.  We all are.  You ask us to explain these things, to educate you, to help you learn how you can be better.  We appreciate this.  We hate feeling like we’re the bad guy or that we’re doing something underhanded or taking advantage of your ignorance when it’s really you that doesn’t understand.  Thanks for admitting this and being a good partner.

You are the best kind of client Andrew.  You know what you know.  And you know what you don’t know.  You hire us, and other outside service providers, for our expertise.  You don’t nickel and dime.  You’re not confrontational.  You recognize, correctly, that we are in this to help you succeed.  Because when you succeed we succeed.  Good service providers know this.  And so do their customers.  Yes Andrew, I love you.  But no, not in that way (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I love you because you’re the best kind of customer there is.