I wrote the other day about how the Olympic Ideals could be converted into better business practice by focusing more on the customer rather than going all out to secure a sale.  I’m currently experiencing an example of very poor customer service, which is worth breaking down and sharing.

Having just set up my own marketing agency, I’m on the look out for other businesses that I can partner with.  I need these companies to not only offer good value for money, but be reliable so that I can in confidence use them time and again.  From my point of view, I’ll not be using these companies for myself, but on behalf of my clients, so if they screw up, I’m the one that looks stupid.

Graphic Design is something we do a lot at Carl Hancock Marketing and having been contracted to design some leaflets for a local complementary health centre, it was time to source a printing company that I could potentially use not once, but again and again.  It started off well with them offering excellent pricing and with me being given a single point of contact, but it’s been downhill from there.

My account details weren’t emailed across, because my email address was taken down incorrectly, so I had to chase.  The pricing then arrives with VAT added, which is not chargeable on leaflets.  I call to correct them and have still not received the revised invoice.  The proof took two days to be emailed across and with some changes submitted then took three days to be returned – again, I had to chase.  We’re now on Sunday, nine days into this process and I’ve no idea when the leaflets are due to be delivered to me, which is nine days too long, especially when I explicated said I needed them on Friday.  The person delivering the leaflets was expecting them tomorrow, so now I look like a fool.

I’m not sure if this printing company are generally a bit incompetent, whether they looked at an order for £180 and didn’t think it important, or maybe my ‘account manager’ was just having a bad week.  Regardless of the reason, unfortunately, due to their poor customer service, I won’t use them again.  If they’d done a good job, I’d have been happy to, which could have resulted in a lot of business for them.

There are many ways to get new business, but a sure-fire way of losing it is poor customer service.  If you don’t get this fundamental right, all other marketing is going to be a waste of time and money.



Watching the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, I heard Jacque Rogge (President of the IOC) espouse the Olympic Ideals as laid down by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

It’s an important value in the sporting arena, but in business also, and with a few changes, we can easily get, ‘it is not about the sale, but how you get the sale’.

Very often in business, people will focus on conquering the client in order to get their money and winning as getting that one sale.   Once the order is received, the cheque is handed over or the monies transferred, the winning line has been crossed and the race is over.

Such a mentality is bad business practice and if this is your mentality, although a sale can be secured, there’s little chance of repeat business.

Each customer needs to be seen as someone who’ll potentially buy from you again or will recommend others to your business.  Focus should be on their buying experience and the value that they are getting from the purchase – ultimately, it needs to be about them, not you!

Doing this might take a little longer and cost a little more, but by converting a customer into a repeat customer, it’s time and money well spent.


Having just set up a new business the phone has not stopped ringing! It’s not a tsunami of new customers though, rather a horde of cold callers trying to sell me everything from electricity to insurance (over a dozen in two hours).

The funny thing is that in every instance it’s a waste of time since they’re trying to sell me their services as business tariffs, which is completely irrelevant since I have a home office.

I did expect this to happen after registering the business, but noticed that a number of the callers were getting somewhat disgruntled, almost argumentative, by saying that I was listed on their database as being a commercial property.

Clearly what had happened was that one company had got my details, entered them wrongly and then sold this wrong information to other companies who are now wasting time and money trying to sell to someone who couldn’t buy even if he wanted to.

The point here is that business owners need to be wary of buying data and instead make an effort to build their own lists of people – people that are interested in your products/services and are in a position to buy.

There are various ways to do this, but here are two very simple and cheap things that every business should be doing.

1. Make sure that you retain the details of every customer. If they’ve bought from you once, they’re likely to buy again.
2. Offer a free guide on your website that can be accessed if someone enters their name and email address. If they’ve gone to the effort of downloading something that’s relevant to your business, then chances are they’re interested and could be a potential customer.

Lists aren’t about quantity, they’re about quality. By doing these two things, you can be confident that when you contact the people on your list they’ll not mind so much and you’ll not be wasting your time and your money.

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