"Special Situations"

I've met a lot of people in business - people who are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful - who firmly believe that some Customers should be treated differently than others.

"They spend a lot of money with us," goes the refrain. "They have a right to expect additional consideration."

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

First of all, did this Customer ask for that 'additional consideration', or did you offer it up because you were so pleased at landing this Customer and afraid that they might go elsewhere?

Treating Customers differently is a trap. In the first place, that additional consideration eats into your profits and - because this Customer is such a large account - it takes big bites. And if your relationship with this Customer is built on 'additional considerations' - things not spelled out in writing between you - the list of what those 'additional considerations' include will only grow over time.

Second of all, the minute that you say that one Customer deserves to be treated better than another, you've driven the first nail in the coffin of Customer service. Because if they deserve better, then all of the other Customers must deserve less, right?

How much less?

Again, because nothing is spelled out in writing, it becomes a slippery slope, causing Customer service to erode a little more each time one of your employees has to decide what constitutes less than your highest level of service.

I'm not saying don't have incentive programs. What I am saying is do have everything spelled out: "Our minimum service commitment to all Customers is x, if a Customer spends y with us within a year, that entitles them to z."

Invariably, one of your employees - usually someone in sales - will come to you with a 'special situation'. Bullshit. There's no such thing. The 'special situation' is a convenient and clever myth, created by salespeople to overcome what they see as an obstacle to making the sale - in this case, to you.

One final thought: If everything is a ‘special situation’, then nothing is.

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