How To Be One of the World's Most Admired Companies

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By Jeff Crume   @jeffcrume

Following this one simple rule could have customers lining up at your door.

I recently chose a new vendor for my inspirational t-shirt designs. The price was good and the system was easy to use. I placed my order, and within a few days was notified the order had shipped. I billed my customer, money was deposited into my bank account, and everything seemed to be working like clockwork. The package arrived, and that’s where the disappointment started.

The fabric was different, the print was cloudy, and the overall quality was not up to my expectation. So I did what every unsatisfied customer would do… I contacted the vendor to express my concern. This vendor’s response is what I believe is the downfall of most companies in business today.

Vendor’s Response: “Jeff, I see you reported that the outcome of your order turned out slightly different from what you expected. I’d like to note that such discrepancy is normal because different companies use different printing technologies — starting from garment, ink types, printers etc.

Fabric is one of the factors which can assess the outcome (you can read about it more here) but there can be also plenty of other aspects coming into picture. They’ve been described in our Color matching disclaimer.”

My Reply: Thanks for the disclaimer; that’s what every customer likes to hear. It just looks like you are not able to provide us with the quality we want to provide to our customers. Wish you the best, Jeff.

More and more businesses are driving customers to university-size libraries of data for answers to their questions to, I believe, avoid dealing with them. Like it’s the customer’s responsibility to become an expert on your business before doing business with you.

When Is Your Business Going to Be About Me?

I do agree it’s the consumer’s responsibility to educate ourselves, but our time is money too. Spending several hours a day, or more, trying to decipher a company’s guidelines, best practices, or disclaimers, is it’s not the most cost effective use of my time.

In the “olden days” we used to pick up the phone and speak directly to a vendor who genuinely wanted to earn our business. They would gladly spend a few minutes, or more, answering our questions so that we could make an intelligent decision about engaging in business with them. A decision that would be in our best interest not just the interest of the vendor.

In the Digital/Internet Age most business is being done without the vendor or customer ever knowing each other at all. No wonder we avoid using relationship-building tools; we’re not really interested in the relationship, just the business.

In the Digital/Internet Age most business is being done without the vendor or customer ever knowing each other at all.

The consumer is to blame as well. We don’t want the hassle of a thousand questions. We want the best selection, the best price, and hassle-free check out.

Disclaimer or No Disclaimer

A disclaimer is a statement or written document that informs a buyer that the seller is not bound by any warranty guarantees or promises regarding the product.

Here’s my question. So why do business with you?

Disclaimers are meant to protect business owners from fraudulent claims, not defend poor quality or customer service, or to avoid the customer all together. But these days, disclaimers are the mainline defense of most businesses.

Could your business survive without a disclaimer?

If you focused on the customer it could. Meeting the needs of another person is the reason you are in business in the first place, right? Oh, I’m sorry. You are not in business for me; you are in business for yourself.

Here’s my question. When is your business going to be about me?

If you are in business for yourself, why not just take my money and forget giving any substantial benefit in return?

Good business is an exchange of quality products or services for hard-earned cash and consumer loyalty. Some business owners these days work harder on methods to get your hard-earned cash than building quality products and services that anyone would gladly part with their hard-earned cash for.

How Does Your Product or Service Measure Up?

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Prestige. Brand. Quality. How I feel wearing your product, driving your product, living in, or with, your product or service; that’s what sells. You don’t have to entice me with Hollywood FX TV ads if you have a good enough product or service.

And when I do finally part with my hard-earned cash in exchange for your life-changing product or service, don’t make me feel like a red-headed step child (no offense to red-headed step children) when I call you for service or support. Take responsibility for what you said would solve my problem or make my life better if I bought it from you when it doesn’t.

Your disclaimer is there to protect you should the need arise to enforce it, not as a means of avoiding the responsibility of dealing with customers. It’s a whole a lot easier to point me to a document than talk me through my concern and arrive at a mutually-beneficial resolution.

Take responsibility for what you said would solve my problem or make my life better if I bought it from you, when it doesn’t.

Ask The Most Important Question

To be one of the world’s most admired companies, I suggest you stop throwing your disclaimer at every customer who calls you with a complaint or concern. The next time you have the opportunity to tout your disclaimer to a genuine concerned customer, think twice.

Ask the customer what their expectations were and why they didn’t think your product or service measured up. Then ask the most important question there is in businessWhat can I do to help you feel better about the product or service you purchased?

Take responsibility for what you said would solve your customer’s problem or make my their better when it doesn’t. It’s key to being one of the world’s most admired companies, and having customers lined up at your door.

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