When "Touching Base" Becomes Downright Rude!!!!
Author: Jocelyn Serone
Sometimes, the high school bully grows up!
Part of my business’s income is from our sewing service, where designers send us their patterns, fabric & components, which are then sewn into garments. Our website has a sewing services info page, which clearly describes our processes, from the sampling/pricing stage right through to production. This document states that we require 2-3 weeks for sampling & 4-5 weeks for production runs. When your order is completed, we will then email an invoice, which will let you know that your order has been completed.
So why is it, even after reading this info page, customers still send an email 1 week into their 4-5 week turn around period, just “touching base to see how my order is going?” This, of course, has me internally responding with “If you come anywhere near touching my base, I’ll freakin’ scream!!!!!”
Only this morning, I received an email from a client who had emailed several months ago about starting a production run & is now in a huge hurry & was wondering if we could push her order through ASAP?
No matter what our career or occupation, we are all customers or clients ourselves at some stage. Having been on the receiving end of pushy clients for the 20 years of running my business, I am very conscious now of how I treat the businesses & suppliers I deal with in my business life. Here are some tips to help respect our business relationships…..
- Educate yourself with the supplier’s policies. Have a look at your supplier’s website. If you can’t find the info you need, email them or better still, get on the phone with a list of your questions & have them answered all at once.
- Respect the company’s policies. My local printer always lets me know when to expect my business cards to be ready for pick up. I know that I need to wait 2 weeks for my order & that he will ring me if they are ready sooner (they usually are). It does me no good to pressure this man- he has provided an excellent service to me for many years & I would like to keep it that way! Excepting surgeons needing transplant organs couriered immediately, if you really consider it, a few days is not really going to matter to the rest of us. While I realise that our businesses are extremely important to us & we often come up against tight deadlines, none of us are saving lives with our work. Let’s keep it in perspective!
- Get organised! The reason most customers are pushy is because they haven’t been organised themselves, are running late & now expect your business to pick up the slack. If I let my stock of business cards run low, it’s not up to my printer to change his working policy, just to accommodate my slackness! I have actually been approached twice by a wealthy customer, who offered my business quite a bit of money to push his order ahead of other customers in the queue. He had run late with his order & we were now expected to make up this time in an unreal timeframe. I refused his money & order both times & the second time dumped him as a client! I was not willing to risk the relationships I had built over time with wonderful clients who could organise themselves & who were respectful to my business, just for a little extra cash. To me, this man was the high school bully all grown up.
- Factor in extra time. Back to my local printer- once my order had to be delayed as he had a huge festival order that he was working on. To me, this wasn’t even a blip on my radar, as I could factor in a couple of extra weeks, because I hadn’t left my order until the last minute.
I realise that many businesses, particularly in the web & graphic design fields, do charge a premium fee for clients needing a project or order completed quickly. This is absolutely fine- after all, this is their company’s policy. Some even charge a PITA (Pain in the Ass!) tax for customers who are pushy, demanding & disruptive to the business’s work flow.
Remember when your mother used to say- “do to others as you would have them do to you”? How nice would it be if we could just be a little more respectful of others’ boundaries & work processes? The best business relationships are built from mutual respect & trust. I know, because we have had many, many wonderful customers over the years!
I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below……..