I’m a big fan of marketing guru Seth Godin, and his blog post today about how businesses treat customers comes down to his question, “Do you spend time doing things to your customers or for your customers?”
In running my events business (it’s small), which serves a lot of specialty food companies (many of whom are also small), I’m often faced with accommodating special requests. Sure, I could refer them to some arbitrary “rules” to get me off the hook, but at the end of the day, it’s not about making things convenient for me.
Business owners who make the so-called rules, also have the power to break — or sometimes bend — them as well. Too often, crazy company policies get in the way of simply doing the right thing for a customer, which in most cases costs the company virtually nothing, except the bad will that usually follows.
My goal is to tell customers “yes” as often as I can, and sometimes I can’t. But when I must say no, I handle it in a way that helps them see the big picture as to why I can’t accommodate their request. People are generally reasonable, and if you treat them in a reasonable way, the bitter pill is often a little easier to swallow.