Response, not Bad News, is What Loses Clients

I don’t know about you, but the only thing I like worse than getting bad news is giving it. I remember many times when I sold digital print, we would have a deadline looming and I could tell there was no way we were going to make it. So I would ask the production manager, “Well, when WILL it be ready?” And she would answer, “In two hours.” And two hours later, we were still not ready. And of course I had already called the client to give them the bad news that we would be late. Now I’d have to make ANOTHER call to say we would be even later. This was very unpleasant, put my reputation in jeopardy, and made for very unhappy clients.

When I really thought about it, I knew the production manager was calculating times based on best case scenarios and wishful thinking. So I had a talk with her and explained how crucial accuracy was in calculating these turnaround times. And, I also learned that when she told me a time, I should add on more time to that before calling the client. Call it my little insurance policy—a way to try to promise good, but deliver great, in an already bad situation.

Personally, a similar situation happened to me recently at the spa in my health club. I had an appointment to get my nails done and my daughters were deposited in the child care center, with a two hour time limit. Ten minutes after my appointment was SUPPOSED to be, I was told it would be three more minutes. Forty minutes later, I sat down in the chair. And I was steaming mad. Because that kind of treatment, for whatever reason, seems disrespectful of my time and circumstance.

The technician apologized profusely and explained that the client before me had been late, and then asked for services for which she did not have an appointment. The lesson there is that if you value your clientele as a whole, you have to make decisions based on what is good for everyone.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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