We have been doing business with a printer on a somewhat regular basis for several years.  I remember the first day their sales rep called on us.  They brought us samples, followed up throughout the process and personally delivered our order.  This type of service continued for the next several times we placed orders. 

 

Then one day the sales rep couldn’t come out and asked us to come to them.  We thought nothing of it, went and visited their facility and placed our order.  Then, the order was delivered and there was an extra charge for courier service.  This was the first time we had been charged for delivery.  Usually our sales rep personally delivered the finished product.   

 

We were frustrated.  I’ve told them not to expect us to come in and not to charge us for the delivery – at least as a line item on the final invoice.  I’ve ask them to quote a price that includes everything related to the project.  If we wanted a price breakdown, we would ask for it. 

 

We had come to expect a certain level of service, and they set the expectation based on the first several times we worked together.  Then something changed.  So, what happened? 

 

A simple answer might be in an old cliché.  The honeymoon is over. 

 

They did what they could to get our business.  The expectation they created was not anything unusual.  As a matter of fact, we thought this was the norm.  Another printer we do business with for other types of projects has a sales rep that brings samples, delivers, just stops by to say hello – and more. 

 

Our relationship is now in jeopardy.  It is a shame.  They are nice people.  Their price, while not always the lowest has been competitive.  They have been able to do some of the special projects that our other printer couldn’t or didn’t want to do.  They originally provided us a level of service that we had been used to, and therefore expected – but asking for what they used to do for us now seems like an inconvenience for them. 

 

Lesson: Business is kind of like dating.  The first time you do business with someone is like a date.  You hope they want to go out – or do business with you – again.  You finally, as some say, close the deal.  To me, that is like getting married and going on the honeymoon.  This is really the start of the long-term relationship.  Get that?  This is important!  The close is really the start.  So, don’t fall down after the honeymoon.  In business the honeymoon should never be over!

 

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.

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