Selling your service (1)

I had a conversation recently with a group of friends about an aspect of Service Delivery. An event decorator amidst us was complaining about a particularly ‘troublesome’ client of hers. She felt this client was too choosy and was miffed because the client had asked
for a drawing, artist impression or even a description of the type of the fabric design she intended to put up at the client’s event. 

The other friends present there felt her anger was justified. One said the request showed a lack of confidence in the decorator. Another said such customers are hard to please and if possible, should be avoided. Some were just plain surprised that anyone would ask for a drawing. They felt all the information that needed to be exchanged should be the colours of the day and event theme (if any existed). I was the lone dissenting voice. 

I asked, if the customer is always right, why we are complaining. Is this request really outrageous? Do we not ask tailors, stylist, cake makers, interior decorators and other craft people for sample designs? Then I actually reminded of an occasion when this same decorator had asked a tailor to draw a new design for her, as she was uninspired any style in about six or seven fashion magazines presented by the tailor. When I pointed out this facts, she re evaluated her initial position and asked for help in clinching the job. 

It was an opportunity to enlighten my friends about their preconceptions and how this was affecting their businesses. (You know it is quite difficult to give your ‘friends’ unsolicited advice). I explained to them the peculiarities of selling a service. For one, they are intangible and therefore, difficult to evaluate. For services bothering on beauty and creativity, it is more difficult because we all have very different definitions of beauty. Secondly, the choice of selling method should be dependent on the clients personality and style. (More on that next week) We then set to work on the drawing. With her daughter crayons, pencil and our minimal drawing skills, we actually came up with three different sketches. She went back to her client and got the job at an even higher bargain and I got a lovely top for my help. 

The lesson: Many of us know what we want and we are quick to press for it. We are equally quick to play the customer service card we are asking for service. However, when the tables are turned, we are/act outraged. Really in this fast paced world, nothing is given. Customer demands are getting higher and steeper. The more of them you have, the more varied the request. It doesn’t matter if no ones has ever has for it before. This first time you get the request you find a way to meet it. What this customer asked for would be called ‘A Presentation’ in business circuits. One should wonder why a former Client Account Manager in an advertising firm would be surprised at such a request.

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