Business people (creative freelancers included), often get frustrated and wonder why clients don't continue to do business with them. When looking at a conservative estimate that says it will cost you at least 5X more in time and money to attract and bring on a new client rather than keep the one you have, this is big problem.
Still, many these are the same business people and freelancers say things like "dear customer", "that's not my department" and "I can't help you because our company's policy is..." Sure, there are certainly a wide range of reasons why a business could be losing clients, I wanted to highlight one today - treating people like they don't matter. Below I've two emails I received from 2 different online printers (direct competitors) within the span of 1 month. These are the exact, unedited versions of what I received, along with the company names; let's have a look:
"Hello Jeremy, I have sent the invoice for the excess cards to you via email. You can access this invoice through your account. I sent the invoice for $20.00. The shipping cost was actually $24.90 however, since I advised you that the cost would be somewhere between $15-20. I only sent the invoice for the maximum of what I quoted." - Overnightprints.com
Contrast that email with the following:
"Dear customer, This e-mail is regarding a support ticket that was reported to us earlier today. We do apologize for the inconvenience. In order for us to assist you better on this issue we need you to provide us with more details of the problem. Thank you for your business!" - 4over.com, Quality Assurance
- The first email calls me by name, my name is Jeremy - it always has been and always will be, it's not "dear customer". And if I was that "dear" to you, I wouldn't just be called a "customer" - * see my note below.
- Notice the writer of the first example honors his word, even though his company will lose out on $4.90.
- The writer of the second email told me that when I called that she would not replace the poorly printed business cards I sent to them until I could prove they were bad by having my client send all of the cards back in - at their expense.
- In the second email, if you're calling me "dear" you'd better be my fiancée, and if you call me a "customer" you've told me right there exactly how much you value me*
- Lastly, adding an exclamation point at the end of "Thank you for your business" doesn't make it any more convincing.
* Customer - someone
who just buys from you - no one that important.
* Client - someone who is valued and under the protection / guidance of a professional.
If you were doing business with a company, would you rather
be a client or a customer?
How about the people that do business with you, which would they rather be?
The Bottom Line:
I invest $20-$25k a year in printing for myself and clients. I let both of the printers listed above: one of them treated me with respect, the other called me "dear customer". Coincidentally, I talked to both writers' of these emails on the phone: the guy from overnightprints.com was helpful, friendly and intuitive, the gal that wrote the email for 4over.com was confused, disinterested and unwilling to help me - she was clearly reading off of a script card, and she had no real authority to help me anyway. Instead of helping me to solve my problem (replace a $24 box of business cards), she lost a $20-$25k account. Foolish.
Look, everyone (you, your clients, my clients - everyone) wants to be treated as an individual, and that they mean something, if you treat them like you don't care, you'll end up going out of business. I never thought this was hard to understand but I guess there are companies out there that are just don’t get it.