As a business person you can make a decision early on in your business life cycle whether you are going to offer a product or service to whoever wants it or whether you and your customers/clients have a mutually beneficial relationship.
They are not the same. Perhaps in the olden days when we had Mom and Pop stores they were. But with the advent of major marketing players the mutually beneficial went out of the window. Never to be seen again. Or at least not for a while.
But it’s not only your super stores, super manufacturers, super suppliers of stuff that are starting to realise that their customers want to be heard, taken note of. Smaller organisations including non-profits also need to play by the same rules.
Take for instance concert halls and philharmonic orchestras. In the past many of these organisations have delivered whatever the concert master/director decided was good for the public. And in fact many still do. It’s a kind of dictatorial rule of-and-by ‘good taste’. If you don’t like classical music then get lost. And that attitude kind of translates into all contact with the public. Whether it’s the ticket office or ushers in the concert hall, the public gets treated as if they were the servants.
Organisations who are looking after their customers/clients/audiences and building true relationships are making it happen whatever the economic climate is.
This article by a blogger shows how an organisation, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, reacted to a customer’s complaint about wheelchair accessibility. They worked incredibly hard to revise their attitude towards their customers. It’s worth remembering that the customer is part of the equation of every successful business venture, whether for profit or not.
So considering this success story, an irritating experience of another kind showed how not to do business. After trying unsuccessfully to buy a book from a website in Spain, Santana Books, with a UK credit card, another attempt with a Spanish card which was successful but did not deliver the eBook, I sent an irritated comment on the contact page complaining about the sites non-usability.
I didn’t hear back from them for over a week. And finally received email notification that my eBook was now available for download. Why it should take so long is another question of course. Surely it could have been automated? At the same time I received another email advising that I would receive a refund as I had sent in such a rude comment. Not what I had expected or wanted. “How can we improve our website’ would have been more appropriate.
Needless to say, there is no way I will buy any of their other books. Not because the books are not worth buying but because the shopping experience is just too painful. Perhaps one disgruntled customer is not a big deal. Perhaps it is. But one disabled customer managed to get a revised attitude for a concert hall’s accessibility policies. And wrote a glowing report about it.
And isn’t that how it should be?
A mutually beneficial relationship.