Winning, Losing and Winning
There are three vendors that are difficult to replace: a dry cleaner, a bank where you are using their online services, and a delivery service if you are a newspaper company.
Just before Christmas, the Boston Globe took a chance and changed vendors it used to deliver its morning newspaper. This decision turned out to be a disaster as the switch caused major headaches.
Imagine getting your newspaper delivered in the same place at the same time every day for years, and then suddenly, it's not there. Or, you have to go out and look for it or it comes later than it used to. Catastrophic? No. But the inconvenience was enough for customers to overwhelm the phone system at the Globe. Employees could not even make outgoing phone calls. At one point, the writers decided to pitch in and help out with the delivery of the Globe. Cancellations increased by 30 percent. For an industry that has a churn—that is, customer loss—of 2 to 3 percent per year. This IS catastrophic.
In an unusual announcement, the CEO of the Globe announced that the new vendor would be scaled back and allowed to deliver only half of the papers. The remaining 50 percent would go to the original delivery company, who are likely all too happy to step back in.
It's never good news to lose an account and it is hard to see through the disappointment and look for a silver lining. Whether it is on price or quality issues, we lament seeing a valued customer head to the competition.
Sometimes, we don't lose the customer. The loss comes in the form of a bid being awarded to another printer.
In either case, losing with grace is important. You want to make it so that the customer feels comfortable contacting you again, if they have reconsidered.
If you lose a bid or lose the entire account, stay in touch. Ask how the switch went. Stay friendly and listen for clues that the door might be open a crack.
Going from winning to losing to winning doesn’t happen often, but it DOES happen.
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