We lost a customer today…
Having just joined the KANE organization in January 2012, I've been focused on building our Business Development team. During this time I had the opportunity to talk to quite a few customers who all had great things to say about our organization. It didn't occur to me that there may be customers who were not receiving the same great service and attention. After all, for 82 years KANE has had a pretty good formula for keeping customers happy – a formula captured in The KANE Code.
Then the letter came. It was from one of our long time customers who decided that we had not delivered on their expectations.
I called the customer to talk about their decision and what had gone wrong. It was a hard conversation to have. It was quite evident that he had spent a good deal of time reviewing and researching alternative 3PL companies and comparing their offerings to what he was receiving from our organization. This motivated me to do my own research on what causes a customer to look for alternatives and to make changes in their provider network. The following warning signs apply not only to 3PL companies but to any company that manages customer relationships.
1. They feel they are being taken for granted – Too many times we think we are giving the customer the right amount of attention, when in fact the customer perceives that we are just going through the motions.
2. Commitments made and not kept – Sometimes, in the spirit of wanting to help the customer, we make a commitment we are not absolutely sure we can keep. In many cases, customers make their own commitments within their company based on our promise. When we fail to deliver so do they, often with negative consequences.
3. Lack of Communication – The lack of contact with a customer will cause them to listen to other organizations'. If we aren't constantly communicating with our clients, someone else will.
4. Difficult to deal with – Whether it's internal bureaucracy or a perceived lack of urgency, a customer's patience has its limits. The easier we make ourselves to work with, the better off we will be.
5. Indifference – Nothing will send a customer looking for alternatives faster than a company whose people treat a customer like an imposition. Remember, having a customer is a privilege, not a right. Those companies who focus on customers and treat them with respect will win in the long run.