Are we losing business through stupid mistakes?

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It’s called a service breakdown. That’s when some piece of the customer experience gets screwed up and the result is an unhappy customer and the possibility of someone no longer doing business with you. I’ve encountered a few of these recently and they remind me how the small, stupid things can negatively impact our business. Keep reading to the end because my thinking about this gave me an idea that I think can make you some money.

My wife and I have been interviewing realtors as we prepare to sell our home in Sedona. We reached out to three who we'd been told were among the best in town. The first two did effective presentations about their approach, but never followed up at all. There was no thank you, no “did you have any questions?” email. Nothing asking what our next steps might be. We were more impressed by realtor #3. They followed up. A few weeks later, we told them we wanted to work together and set a time to talk about next steps. At the appointed time, they didn’t show up for the phone call. One hour later they sent a text to tell us that something had come up. How hard would it have been to send a text before the call rather than have us waiting around? A service breakdown, for sure. And a big financial hit for this realtor, who was guaranteed at least half the commission if they’d gotten the listing. If you’re keeping score, we’re now 0 for 3 in Sedona for a realtor, and these were supposed to be the best!

Does that make you wonder if people on your sales teams are doing things like that? It’s pretty likely they are.

This week, I took the new Jim Doyle & Associates President, Angela Betasso, to our bank to get her added to our accounts as a signatory. You’d think that would be simple, right? Not at our bank. I won’t bore you with the details, but they couldn’t seem to agree with some voice on the phone about how this needed to happen, so we had to leave without resolving the issue. It’s funny… we could have opened a new account faster than simply adding a signature to an existing account!!! (Which I’ll probably now do at another bank because of the completely unprofessional way they handled this situation.) It’s too bad for the bank, as I’m pretty sure we’re a very profitable relationship for them and have been for 20+ years.

Unprofessional sales techniques. Employees not empowered to solve a customer’s problem. No follow-up to a call. There’s a good chance all those things happen at your company more often then we’d like to think.

It gives me two thoughts that I hope are helpful to you.

#1 – We’re so focused on new business, but the truth is, keeping customers is a whole lot easier than getting new ones. So, should we spend some time looking at our processes: credit approval, billing, production, follow-up after a sale, and ESPECIALLY relationships with decision makers at KEY accounts? Are we doing everything we can to KEEP the clients we already have? Should we make client retention as important as new business? How would that effort look?

#2 – Does it make sense to list the 10 largest clients we’ve lost in the last 12 months and ask our general managers to visit the key decision makers at these accounts? The approach? Ask if we’ve done something wrong. Did we mess up anything or make any mistakes that bothered them. If so, how can we make it right. I’m willing to bet there’ll be at least one situation where we messed up. And, I’m certain that effort would also re-start some conversations that lead to revenue. A great use of a GM’s time and a time investment that would probably lead to business. 

Like Walt Kelly penned in the old Pogo comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Service breakdowns happen, but dealing with them effectively can keep clients from leaving us for the wrong reasons. And that’s worth your attention.

Have a Group, Corporate, General Manager or Sales Manager meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle speak at your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a SALES FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at or call 941-926-SELL