July 2015 - AMF Direct LLC

Customer Service that Doesn’t Make Sense

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Poor Customer ServiceI own a multi-media direct marketing agency and have a practice of hiring outside contractors to work on specific projects. Most vendors come to me by recommendation, networking or word of mouth.

Here’s a case study on how an independent contract should not behave.

In November I started a new project in television media and I asked around in the community for a person to provide post production services for me. It involves transposing the raw recorded footage and editing it, under my direction, to create a 29 minute show for TV, YouTube and QuickTime.

I contacted this person, agreed on his price per hour without negotiating, and we began. The work is arduous and time consuming, but we made each session pleasant. I brought lunch and he supplied coffee. The goal is to finish each show at the end of a multi-hour session. Then I accept delivery in 3 formats and I pay for the services as provided. In a 2 month time period, I paid over $800 to this vendor and brought lunch for us to share.

As time went along, the quality of the work got worse in small increments. I pointed out specific items to fix. The vendor fixed them, his error, and then told me I have to pay for his extra time. I learned that after many years of working with this software, he didn’t know how to use the technology and had no knowledge of how to treat a customer. Then he only wanted cash instead of my check for tax reasons.

When the biggest mistake occurred that cost me time, money and embarrassment, and I called it to his attention, he sent me a text that he quit and told me not to call him again. I said that I paid for the project and he has to fix it and deliver it. Then he went to a few people and started trash talking about me, the good paying and pleasant customer.

Does this make sense? Absolutely not. Did he appreciate and properly service his client? Absolutely not. Will he make any more money from my progressively growing account or get referrals? Absolutely not.

So, there are certain people that should not be in business, because they have no quality standards, they don’t want to learn, and will leave a long line of unsatisfied customers. My lesson learned is pre-screen a vendor carefully, get referrals, seek out a few resources, and hire carefully. With that diligent process you will end up satisfied and have a vendor that will help you to be successful.

Crisis Communications for Restaurant Owners

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Restaurant ReviewTraditionally, public relations media is something that every business owner will seek. It’s used to raise awareness of your business in the media and approval of third parties, through your good customer service, excellent products or community donations for your brand or significant insights.

Crisis communications turns everything upside down, since the business owner is then challenged to deal with negative media. From the moment that “bad press” hits the news – in print, TV, online or social media or word of mouth – you must focus on diminishing damage to your company’s reputation by third party sources. It’s the opposite of a referral or testimonial.

Some examples may be a bad restaurant review, health department closure, murder at your restaurant, employee walkout, or even unappealing behavior by the owner such as sexual harassment or arrest.

If something like this should happen to your restaurant, you must act quickly. It will not just go away; it will resonate with your existing and future customers.

Here are three key actions to perform to get your business back on track.

Take ownership of the situation. Designate a spokesperson, someone who will be the calm and actionable face of the company. When you are forthcoming about either what you did or what you’re going to do to prevent the problem from happening again, the public is less liable to be angry or disgusted and give you a “second chance.” An apology goes a long way.

Act immediately and issue a statement as stated above. The sooner you react and respond, the faster you deny this crisis the chance to move out of control. This will assist in making this bad event news flash into yesterday’s news.

State your knowledge of the matter and correct information. Be exact in your statement about what happened, and state your actionable solution, step by step. For example, “We have identified the problem ABC, and are now working in XYZ manner to immediately rectify the issue. We appreciate your patience and continued patronage.” In a crisis, people fill in stories with their own suspicions and hearsay. Take away that conjecture with facts and swift actions, and then there is no place for the rumors to go.

If you are not sure about what to do, contact a public relations or corporate communications specialist (such as myself). They will advise you properly and guide you to a swift resolution. The cost is very minimal compared to the business you will lose and may never recoup.

They Wanted New Customers But Turned Them Away

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Salon MarketingThis is an honest to goodness story that happened to me today.

I regularly receive a popular direct response mailing and as you know it is an envelope full of special offers from your local merchants. You can get special discounts for restaurants, an oil change for your car, salon services and more.

So when I received my direct response pack in December I looked through the coupons and took out the offers that interested me.

In there was an offer from a local hair salon that I had never gone to, offering a new customer an introductory special of $9.99 for a shampoo and blow-out for any length hair. Those of you that go to the hair salon know that this is a very good deal.

I held onto the coupon until I had an event that I wanted my hair to look especially nice. I phoned the salon around 12:30pm to inquire if I needed an appointment, even though I could have just walked in, and the receptionist said I could if I wanted to. So I made an appointment for that very day at 2:30pm.

Then I noticed that the expiration date on the coupon was 1/15/15 and I made the appointment on 1/16/15. So I called back and asked if they would still accept the coupon. The answer came back “sorry we won’t take the coupon, it’s expired.”

I hung up the phone and laughed out loud. Not because I was upset that I couldn’t get my hair done at that salon, but the fact that the salon owner turned down a new client.

The salon contracted with the direct response mail advertising company because they have a need for new customers. They paid a hefty fee for the printing and mailing service, with a call to act by a certain date. The date is set so they can realize a return on their investment, and then perhaps repeat their business with this company.

I guess the direct mail salesperson thought he didn’t have to mention to the salon owner not be so rigid about an expiration date when a new client calls for service. After all, I would not even know about this salon if I didn’t get the mailing.

So the salon lost out on introducing their services to a new customer. Had I been in the salon chair, they had the opportunity to get to know me a bit, ask about what kind of hair products I use and discuss recommendations they would make. And I am a very generous tipper, so the technician missed out on that also.

So in economic terms here’s what happened…

  • Hair wash and blowout: $9.99
  • Tip for technician: $7.00 (based on original price of service)
  • Tip for hair wash technician: $3.00
  • Upsell hair care products (shampoo, conditioner and mousse): $45.00

So in one day they missed out on new revenue from one customer of $65 (plus tax). Then there are continued services over the next few months – hair color, cut, keratin treatments totaling about $600 over 3 months.

And don’t forget the “happy customer referral” when I would tell my friends what a great deal and service I got at this new salon. Now multiply that by 10 new customers and you get the idea of exponential income growth. It turns out that the initial introduction was PRICELESS.

So, the moral of this story is “don’t throw away a new client lead.” If a prospect is interested in your service, engage them. Make them feel like they are the best thing since the gold rush. If you don’t, you will have the same consequence as this salon – throwing away money on advertising that doesn’t work because you do not allow it to work.

P.S. Of course, this salon did not renew their contract with the DM company.

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