It really isn’t what you say, but how you say it, isn’t it?
I just received a letter from the Post Office notifying me that it is time to pay my annual bulk rate mailing dues. I was expecting the letter but what I wasn’t expecting was the verbiage it contained:
Dear Charles Marshall,
Your privilege to mail at presorted prices will expire on the dates shown below. If you plan to continue using your existing privileges, the fees noted below must be paid prior to the indicated due date.
My privilege? Let me get this straight. The Post Office is doing me a big favor by taking thousands of my dollars every year, giving me a slight discount because I’m doing a lot of business with them. If I want the pleasure of them continuing to take my money, then I need to hurry up and pay them some more money. Do I have that about right?
Does that strike anyone else as being a bit offensive? It sounds to me like another case of someone not knowing where their money is coming from. I can’t help thinking if the person writing this letter knew that I was the one paying his paycheck, then maybe the letter would have sounded a bit different. How about:
Dear Mr. Marshall,
I want to thank you that I have a job. Without your continued patronage, I and thousands of other people like me would be out on the street. I also want to thank you for being a bulk mail customer and I hope that you will do us the honor of renewing your contract with us for another year.
See the difference?
Don’t get me wrong, I have known scores of mail carriers over the years that do their job with grace and professionalism. Unfortunately, it would appear that they aren’t the ones making policy and writing the letters.
And to be fair, it’s not only the Post Office that misses the all-important point that the customer is king. I received an e-mail from one of my Web host companies earlier this year, which contained the following language:
Attached you’ll find a new sales agreement. The new sales agreement is required. You were paying $140 and now the cost is $176 per month. Please sign and return the sales agreement.
I’m required? Does this sound like a company trying to stay in business? Let me drop a little hint here. No customer is ever “required” to do business with you! Even if the business is the only game in town (a utility, for example) the customer still has the option of kicking their sorry rear ends out of there and replacing them with someone who actually cares about the customer.
So, guess what I did when I received this e-mail requiring that I sign a new contract at a higher rate? I went shopping for another Web hosting company because I don’t like being ordered to sign a contract paying more money for mediocre service. I’m just funny that way, I guess.
So what’s the take away here? Do yourself a favor and place yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. Why not treat them with the respect and appreciation you like to receive? It’s a big deal when someone chooses to do business with you, and it’s important to remember that your customers don’t owe you anything.
Feel free to reprint this article in your organizational publication. We only ask that you use the following attribution blurb at the bottom of the article:
© 2011 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site at www.charlesmarshall.net or contact him via e-mail at info@MPowerResources.net.