S**t happens. And when it happens with a client, you can choose whether you use the opportunity to genuinely make a difference, or to abuse it.
We’ve recently returned from visiting stunning Croatia. While on Hvar, we’d booked a small boat for the day – my son is a licenced boat driver (I’ve heard the pros call that a “captain”?), and we were looking forward to him taking us around the islands.
Except the hire boat wouldn’t start. There was a problem with the engine, and it wouldn’t leave port.
Enter company owner. He offered us a refund. Fair enough – we’d not pay for something we didn’t use. Though with only 2 days there, that’s a substantial hole through our plans, and there were no other boat options by that stage. He then said he’d fix the boat and give us a discount. We agreed to that – we were all really looking forward to a day in the sea.
So he fixes it, and we’re ready to go over 2 hours later.
We’d lost about a quarter of the day, meaning also some places we could have gone to before, that we now simply wouldn’t get to in time. To compensate for their issue, he offered about a 15% discount.
You don’t need GCSE maths to figure this one out. Lost nearly 30% of the day, offered 25% discount.
Meaning we’d be paying more per hour than before. His “discount” was a higher per hour fee.
He justified it by saying he could no longer rent the boat out, so he needed to recoup his cost. And I guess, down to us to help him do that…
At which point, I could care less about his costs – we’d booked and paid to rent something which he’d not maintained properly, had lost a solid chunk of the day (when we had only 2 days there), and here he was trying to salvage as much profit as he could from his captive customer.
If he’d have accepted that he’d blown a chunk through our very limited time and made a serious discount, he’d have made us fans despite the issue with his equipment, got rave reviews, and had us tell our mates to use him if they visit.
But he missed that boat (sorry).
Instead, we had a really sour taste as the only thing that concerned him was salvaging the day’s rent of that one boat at a higher profit.
Your clients see the value you bring when you deliver to them. But they see how much you genuinely care by what happens when things go wrong.
I’ve strengthened client relationships when thing have broken for me or for them. I’ve won business from people who I rejected at interview (that was an interesting sales meeting!). Not by being anything special – I’m not – but simply by giving a damn about them when things didn’t go as planned.
I’ve also had clients who’ve strengthened my dedication to supporting them by their looking at the relationship rather than the transaction. Both when they have had an issue, or when I’ve had one.
And that’s the key thing. Do you treat your clients (or your suppliers) as a transaction? Or as a relationship that will create value for you both?
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