Imagine a romantic relationship without communication! How would one accomplish that feat? Impossible, you say? Relationships of all kinds require effective communication at multiple levels. That generalization includes business relationships between vendors and customers.
Advanced Disposal, a Florida company, recently completed their acquisition of Southland Sanitation, gaining them a greater market presence here in the southeast. The customer service at the old company was lacking, and my first experience with the new company shows me that little has changed.
After a weather-related service interruption, I called the company to inquire about the pickup of recycled trash in our neighborhood. The automated operator directed me to press 0 for "customer service." As instructed, I patiently waited on hold, where finally I was connected to, you guessed it, a recorded message instructing me to leave a message. Reluctantly, I did so. After 24 hours and no response, I called again. This time, after a 6 minute wait on hold, I spoke with a representative who informed me that she would instruct their service coordinator to handle the issue later that day or first thing in the morning.
You guessed it... 24 hours later - no service pickup. I called again, waited only 3 minutes on hold and spoke with a real person again. She informed me that there would be no recycled trash pickup that week after all and service would be resumed at the normal time next cycle. There was no apology, no caring at all in her attitude. I asked for the name and email of their general manager. Without answering me, she said "you need to speak with Steve" and promptly transferred me to his number where I was put into his voice mailbox. I reluctantly left a calm message asking for a return call. You guessed it... no response.
What is the point of all this? Customers want their voices heard. Customers want to know that their suppliers are listening to their concerns. Customers want to know that vendors are paying attention to their needs. Customers want their vendors to be "easy to do business with." What customers really want is to know that they are valued.
A terrific means to this end is effective communication. Ask questions, then listen closely. Discover their needs and wants. Stay in touch. Return their calls promptly. Let customers know that you are interested in them and that their business is valued.
As a customer, it would have been nice to have been notified of the change of ownership and be properly introduced to the new company. They could have introduced themselves, their web site, their policies and discussed how they conduct business. They also could have been interested enough to welcome feedback and describe how best to communicate with them. An opportunity sorely missed.
Don't let poor customer service and a lack of response injure your relationships with your customer base. That is a costly sales mistake that few of us can afford.