From the Publisher: Have you checked your service lately? – Don’t forget your existing clients.

I recently called a vendor that I have been using for years; notice that I contacted them, to ask for an update on my account and what my options were for the coming year.

Not only did I have a new company representative, which was news to me, but I had to tell the new person who I was and how long I have been a customer. Unacceptable.

Insult to injury, my questions have gone unanswered; it is now two weeks and counting.

I received the following e-mail today.

“Good morning. I’m sorry this has been dragging out a little bit, things have been a little crazy. I will get you some answers to your situation. Thank you for your patience.”

First and foremost, my questions were not that hard. Don’t send an e-mail that answers are coming, just answer them in a timely fashion.

Also, sending this e-mail is weak. The company representative is starting a new relationship with me and I am obviously second fiddle to other “crazy” things. However, the most critical message that I am receiving is that my account is not that important.

A company’s reputation is only as good as the employees who represent them.

Business owners listen up: my image of the company is not as good as it once was. Not just this one person, but the company as a whole. Probably they feel that since I have been a customer for years that I am going to stay with them. Not true.

Poor service is absolutely unacceptable given every company’s need for business and every customer’s ability to switch providers. With the world the way it is, odds are good that customers shopping their business to other vendors is more common. PLEASE, proactively check on your current accounts ensure they are satisfied with your services.

1. Ensure you are in constant dialogue with existing accounts.
2. Be honest and open when questions are asked, don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.
3. Answer your phone and follow up within a 24 hour period; sooner if possible. Make it a policy and part of your culture.
4. Executives, test your own company’s service. Actions speak louder than words; it’s good to ensure your folks are representing your interests.
5. Put checks and balances in place to ensure clients are given the best service that your company can deliver.

I think we can all agree, poor service stands out as people focus more on the value of the dollar and of a hard work ethic. Poor service is a fast road to failure and, given the economy, unacceptable.