A Tale of Customer Service
Jan 1, 1998 12:00 PM, Nathaniel Hecht
Time flies. Here we are in January of 1998, the year that marks the 15thanniversary of Sound & Video Contractor. Although technology continues tomove forward in leaps and bounds, our editorial goal remain the same: toprovide timely and topical material to aid you in the pursuit of yourbusiness goals. We have reach that objective whenever you use theinformation that we publish to maximize profits, increase efficiency andminimize the time spent conducting business.
To that end, we will continue to cover in-depth issues dealing with usefulsubjects. In addition, we will expand our coverage by enlarging whatalready has become an S&VC tradition: regular columns. Additional columns,along with feature material, will allow expansion upon subjects that are ofinterest to all sound and video contractors. We will hear industry expertscover the issue of the moment in marketing and sales, small businessmanagement, universal installation theory, contractor law, DSP and theevolving video marketplace. These additional columns will complement ouralready diverse offerings in the many areas of systems integration andexpanding new markets. We hope you like these changes and, most important,find them useful in satisfying your business needs.
Another addition for future issues of S&VC will be a question-and-answersection. Chances are that if you have a question about a particular problemor installation situation, then there are dozens of others who have thesame question as well as some who have already resolved the same issue. Weinvite you to submit questions for publication, and we will seek answersfrom our industry leaders and experts. Questions may be product- orinstallation-related and even clerical. Please submit questions via E-mailat: firstname.lastname@example.org or regular mail. We look forward to hearing fromyou.
Shifting gears, a note on customer service. For those of us who travel, analmost universal experience is the delay of airline departure, and I wasrecently a victim of such a situation. A flight that was supposed to leaveat 9:30 p.m. actually departed at 3:30 a.m.
Can you imagine getting away with this sort of thing in our industry? Thekey with this particular airline is that as a charter, they had no fear oflosing customers. All of us had paid in full, had non-cancelablereservations on the other end, and held non-refundable tickets. An entire747 full of passengers was left waiting for nine hours without so much asan announcement. Most of the passengers on that flight would have beenhappy with merely an explanation and apology.
Although gratifying for me to lambaste the airline industry, the point hereis not to take your customers for granted. Once the deal is closed, it isnot only the job that begins, but also the process of building yourcustomer's confidence. Customers need reassurance during the entireprocess, and they definitely need to be informed along the way, bad news orgood. In this competitive business, customer service will set you apartfrom your competition. Selling yourself and your customer service is theonly thing you can truly offer your customer to foster repeat business. Aproblem can often be turned into a positive step in thisrelationship-building process when addressed professionally. Think aboutthose airlines that you don't fly anymore because of negative experiences,and it is easy to see things from your customer's point of view. When youget mad at an airline for whatever reason, it is usually simple enough tovote with your pocketbook by flying another carrier, but in the contractingbusiness, it is not the repeat business you lose, it is the referral. Wordgets around fast. Protect yourself.