“So I can get even with every [expletive] that I wanted to get even with.”

Justin Seibert | |

Best line I’ve heard in awhile:

I asked a colleague this morning when he was going to vote. He said, “I always vote on my way to work. That way if something happens during the day I can still get even with every s.o.b. that I wanted to get even with.”

At first I was just going to file that in my memory banks to steal and use in ’08 at the next election. But then I thought, wow that really sums it up. Everyone that you’ve ever had contact with professionally is out there and can actively help or hurt future prospecting.

How Not to Handle a Client Complaint
I used to live in Los Angeles, where there were four major grocery chains at the time (two have since merged) in addition to a variety of specialty or niche markets. I did all of my shopping at one particular chain because they were close to where I lived and serviced my needs adequately.

One time I had a problem with them. I was very upset, although more at the way it was handled than the policy itself. I wrote a letter to the chain’s headquarters and received a call back from a very polite young woman who said she would have the VP of Customer Service or similar title call me back.

He did call me back, with which I was very impressed. He listened for awhile and, after getting tired of me, said, “Tell you what. We’ll try to do a better job for you next time, Jason. Okay?”

I said, “Okay” and hung up the phone. All I wanted was the semblance of understanding and an apology. Instead I received a hope that in the future maybe they can try to possibly do a better job if at all possible if that exact situation ever happens again hopefully. Also, my name is Justin.

For the next six years I drove by two separate stores from that grocery chain to get to another grocer. That’s Los Angeles, so you can imagine the dedication. In addition, I defamed the grocery store every chance I got. My sister and wife (eventually) stopped shopping there altogether and I influenced the purchasing decisions of several friends. All told, they lost over $100,000 in revenue because they couldn’t simply say “sorry” whether they meant it or not.

And I don’t think I was the only one. I later worked with a woman formerly employed by this grocery chain. When I told her my story she stood up for the chain, but also indicated that she didn’t think much of the VP and had heard complaints about him from others as well.

The Flip Side
Now let’s look at Wilson, the athletic goods supplier. When I was a teenager, I used to play a lot of tennis and used a Pro Staff racquet. I really liked it, but because of the way I held the handle at the bottom, the heel kept coming off.

I wrote to Wilson about the problem, who told me to send the racquet back and that they’d take care of it. I was excited that they would repair the racquet, as I viewed the issue half the fault of my use and half the fault of their construction.

A little while later I received a box from Wilson with a brand new racquet! The note inside informed me that they were going to send me another Pro Staff, but because that model was no longer being made, they enclosed a Hammer (a more expensive, higher quality racquet).

Talk about exceeding expectations! Just as my wrath is fierce and stubborn, my loyalty is strong and long. For over a decade, whenever I have needed sporting equipment, I have looked for Wilson brands first – regardless of cost.

Today’s Moral
Just imagine if the grocery chain had treated me as Wilson did. They could have issued an apology and – heaven forbid – sent a 5%- or 10%-off coupon for my next visit. I received a number of these from the chain I switched to for my loyalty, so it’s not unheard of and couldn’t cost the grocer that much money.

Just as I buy athletic supplies from Wilson and printers from HP, I stay away from certain restaurants and grocery stores. Think I’m the only person out there with resolve and a long memory?

Worse (or better), with such easy access to posting information to the Web, millions of people can post blogs or comments on message boards extolling or decrying your company.

Check out one of my favorite sources for negative feedback and see how your company does: Bad Business Bureau.

And since I started with my favorite new quote, let me give you one of my favorite old ones from an old boss. His father used to tell him, “You only get two chances to make a first impression: the first time you meet and after the first time you screw up.”

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

View Justin's full bio.
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