Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Crux of Good Business

It may seem pretty basic but if you are going to work in the communication business, you need to work at this thing called communication. It seems like I need to work at it every day--even when I don't want to work at it.

Recently one of my customers wrote and said, “This EBook has not been up to my expectations and I wish to request a refund. I don't believe the content was substantial enough to merit the $39 cost.”

The comment made me a bit angry and I wanted to come back in protest. After all I had sold many copies of this same Ebook around the world without a single person asking for a refund. Wasn't it my “right” to protest such a request?

Instead I dropped it and simply refunded the money. On my website, I have a “no questions asked refund policy.” It says that if you ask for a refund, then I refund the money. It’s straightforward and simple.

This customer had requested a refund so I was going to return the money. Within the hour, I sent the money along with this note to the customer, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you this time. I hope to work with you again later on.”

Notice my comment leaves the door open for this customer to return and purchase another product from me at a later date.

Over the years in business, I’ve learned several important lessons in this area of customer service which are important for every business person.

1. Never burn a bridge. Relationships are critical and it is important for you to take steps to preserve your relationship. Someone may return a product today but become a major monthly client if you handle the return properly. It is never worth burning a bridge with some snappy comeback.

2. Always deliver prompt customer service. When someone emails me about a product, I try and answer within 24 hours. I don’t care if I’m traveling and away from home or where I am when I get the request. I quickly send a response. If I can resolve it, then I try and resolve it. If I need to explain that I’m on the road and will resolve it in the next day, then I send that message. My customers deserve a timely response.

When I have a customer service issue with a product or service, I’m expecting a prompt response. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.” It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason.

3. Be certain to respond. Whether the customer service issue is someone asking for one of my free products or someone asking to return a product that they have purchased, I attempt to deliver prompt customer service. I have a simple principle: when someone write or calls, I call them back or email them in response. In today’s world it is shocking the lack of response from vendors. If you take this simple step, it will distinguish you from the others.

Communication and quick resolution will pay off for you and build rapport which will preserve your reputation and build trust.

Here's the “rest of the story.” The Ebook that I'm talking about was Writing For The Christian Market. Recently I was talking with som

eone about a Christian publishing company and the way they treated their customers. The person I was talking with was not a Christian but he complained, "This company talks all over their site about God and uses that reason why people should use their company. Because they are Christians, I hold them to a higher standard of excellence." While I didn't turn the discussion into one about faith and standards, I agreed with the person.

What are you doing to foster or hinder good communication in your writing life? That connection is critical in many different areas of life and it was a good reminder for me.

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