I'm a great fan of good business practice, as we all are. I'm looking for good, efficient service. The sort offered by some of my clients like The Savoy (not that I'm taking all the credit)
With customers being a bit harder to come by these days, you'd think that companies would try a bit harder to get customers. Here are two examples of incredibly poor customer service that I've experienced in the past few days.
I was speaking recently at International Confex at Earls Court. It's the biggest UK show for event organisers and venues. There were hundreds of hotels, tourist boards and suppliers exhibiting. I visited fifty stands, explained that I was interested in their service or venue, since I may be able to recommend them to clients. In every case, my details were taken, either from my bar-coded badge, or my business card. In the two weeks since the event, I've received three emails from exhibitors. One was nicely personalised, referred to my interests, and suggested possible collaboration. The other two were sent impersonally and made no connection whatever. One was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. I also received one phone call. Just one. It was from a lovely lady called Jean, who represents a hotel in Dublin. She was superb, and I will definitely recommend her venue.
That was it. From fifty companies that I asked for information, in an environment where they had paid to meet potential clients, over ninety per cent failed to follow up.
Here's another example. I was asked earlier this week by a friend in the US for a recommendation of a PR company in China. I know a few, but not that well, so I decided to make some enquiries. Several people recommended the same company. I rang their London office with the query. I was put through to someone's voicemail, which included in the outgoing message "I will call you back within two hours". The next day, I still hadn't received a call, so I rang them again, and this time spoke to a real person.They said I'd have to ring a different office and gave me a number. It turned out to be Haymarket publishing, not their other office at all. I rang the company again. They gave me a different number, which turned out to be a fax machine. You can imagine my mood by now, since all I'm trying to do is to refer them to a friend who is looking to employ them. Finally, I managed to speak to someone in the other office, only to hear "We don't deal with that, you need to call our Singapore office". It was too late to call Singapore, so I rang the next morning (today as I type this). The phone diverted to a mobile number, and the person I spoke to told me "This is my personal mobile, you shouldn't be using this number". I apologised (even though it wasn't my fault). I've now given up on them.
So here's the thing. I've been in the position of a customer looking for a supplier. I'm offering paid work to companies. I've ended up so frustrated that I've given up. I would never dream of treating my customers and potential customers in that way. Nor would you, I'm sure.