By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO
We run our business one way. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. That’s it. No other way, and it’s not negotiable. If we’re lucky enough to have an organization choose to be our customer, we’re going to do our best to overwhelm them with service and a caring attitude. But more and more, we seem to be the customers of companies on the opposite end of the spectrum: They know we have no choice but buy from them, and if we choose to leave, who cares? They have others.
So I don’t make anyone upset, I’ll very vaguely describe the kinds of companies I’m talking about. The first type has these things that go up in the air and take you from point to point. Usually you sit way too close to the person next to you in a space that is totally full and made for about two-thirds of the people in there. They’re rarely on time, have eliminated half of their offerings, and the demand for their services has pretty much doubled. They’ve stopped going to half the hubs they used to in a cost-cutting measure they call efficiency. And they love to keep you from getting to your destination for various mechanical reasons like a broken toilet seat or weather-related issues like the ripple down from a thunderstorm two weeks ago. They live off the government but continue to raise rates and fees because what are you really going to do about it? Ride the bus?
As a second anonymous industry, let’s talk about these people that provide particles of data to your home or business. Usually there’s really only one choice. Sure, these competitors show up and claim they can do the same. But with their service, if so much as a bird sneezes outside, it usually results in an outage. So, this primary provider knows you’re stuck and is free to raise prices and push you around however they would like.
How did we get here? How do we fix it? I’ll let you in on a little secret – we can’t. We’re stuck. Unless you never want to go anywhere or you want to pass the time at home by reading books or knitting a scarf, there is probably nothing you can do. They know they have you captive, and their customer service pretty much tells this same story. I’m not going to say you won’t come across a very nice person, but a corporate policy or procedure will probably prevent that person from providing you with what you were hoping to get or achieve.
Can you imagine running your business this way? But there is a lesson here. Don’t be like them. Respect your customers. Understand that without them, you have nothing. Make them feel special, and never let them feel the way you feel walking away from an experience with one of the completely hypothetical industries above.