17 Mar Making the apology
Sooner or later
We all have to make one
Pardon me while I wander off the content marketing reservation a little bit this month.
There are three rules in this – and most businesses.
Rule #1 – take care of your customers.
Rule #2 – take care of your customers.
Rule #3 – take care of your customers.
But what if something happens that is totally out of your control but has a direct impact on your customers’ experience with you? What if it’s something that impacts your reputation?
For instance, what if your outgoing email stops working? Well, it doesn’t stop working completely, it just becomes a crap shoot whether your email will get delivered at all. You have no idea. No error messages. No bounced emails.
Then the first one comes in. “Did you receive my last email?” So you send the document over again. You don’t think twice about it. Sure. It happens sometimes. And you go about your day.
But then they keep coming. Your new client who hasn’t responded to your last three messages asks if there’s any update on that thing he asked you for last week. You know, that thing you sent to him on Sunday night after you worked all weekend getting it ready. And you find out it never arrived.
Then. You. Freak. Out. Utterly and completely.
You realize that just one out of 4 or 5 emails is getting through. The rest just vaporize without explanation.
You work with tech support hours every day for a week and the host assures you everything has been fixed. Then they blame the problem on you. It never gets fixed. We came up with numerous solutions and work-arounds that our customers were unaware of. After all, this is something they shouldn’t have to worry about. Right?
We ended a ten-year relationship with our web host today and transferred hosing for 17 different sites. Not a small job in a hurry. Because they have millions of small customers, they probably didn’t care much. I won’t mention their name here, but if you want to know who they are, feel free to email or call – I’ll tell you all about it.
The reasons were, simply the 3 things that will kill any business when you stop paying attention to them:
- Reliability and
- Customer service
When I first contracted with this host, the service was impeccable. I had a quote from one of their lead developers on my wall for years. I recommended them to my clients. I hosted more and more sites of my own with them. My business grew with them.
Over the past three months:
- Our website disappeared off the face of the earth once.
- The automatic backup we’d been paying for every day could not be restored.
- Random images disappeared off the site and could not be found or restored
- Our email server connection broke on a semi-regular basis
- And this week, I may have lost an exceptionally exciting new client for us because of lack of communication.
When I looked into current reviews of this host, I found horror story after horror story. It was a complete surprise to me.
Was it our fault? No.
Was the problem at all in our control? No.
Was there anything we could have done to make it better? Probably not.
Would I blame them if they started looking for another vendor? Honestly, no.
This whole mess wasted their time. It frustrated them and made us look, at best, amateurish. Sure it wasn’t our fault, but it was, unfortunately, our responsibility.
I spent the last week or more apologizing and explaining to all my clients and prospects. Because we have a good relationship with them, they’ve been exceptionally understanding.
Gratefully, our new big prospect gave us a chance to explain and, more important, apologize. To date, and not the least of which because I know we can create something special for them, we are still working together.
It all goes back to Rule #1-3. Take care of your customers. Our web host stopped paying attention to these rules and they lost us as a client.
Honestly, who ever thinks to check up on your current web host’s reputation? Who ever questions a ten year relationship?
Well, I do. Now.
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