I’ve been working for technology companies for just about twenty years. My main point of contact is either IT, Marketing or Sales. Getting their time is rare and when I get it, I have to make sure that I use the time wisely. Sometimes I don’t get what I need from them, but I’m always thankful for their time because I know that they have their regular job to do and they also have many many many other vendors that they work with. My time is precious, but I also know that their time is precious too.
Although there have been many times that I have asked the world of a customer, I know that they have no obligation to do anything for me – even if they are 100% happy with my company’s products or services. I have never made a customer sign a document saying that they’ll commit to doing x, y or z because I never want to legally contract them to doing something for me. Rather, I want them to want to do something for me. Your customers aren’t your children, they are more like the boy/girl that you’re dating. You are also not married to them and they are not married to you. Could you imagine during your wedding having to sign a contract that says that you’ll clean the toilets once a week, take your spouse on an expensive vacation four times a year or write you love letters once a month. Wouldn’t you want them to want to do that, rather than making them do it. When we’re forced to do something, it becomes an obligation and very few people like being obliged. The only obligation that your customer should have to you/your company is to pay the invoice. That’s it! Everything else is just icing on the cake.
And never, ever threaten them because they couldn’t do something or had to back out of something. Don’t dismiss them just because they weren’t able to follow through on a commitment. They are people too and have other things to do than make you/your company look good.
I’ve written it many times before it’s worth repeating. Customers owe you nothing!! Nothing at all!!!! I don’t care if you have sent them shwag for months, you gave them a discount or you remember their birthday. When they do something for you, the vendor, it’s a favor. Don’t expect them to make you or your company a top priority. If they do, you’re lucky and it’s great.