Don’t Be That Customer | Atkinson Consulting
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Don’t Be That Customer

Don’t Be That Customer

Let’s face it, if you’ve had any sort of longevity in business you’ve probably had your share of really great, and also really bad clients.  When we are sitting at our desk in the morning, with a fresh cup of coffee ready to face the day, we all day dream about the perfect customer.  One that hands us tons of money for an easy job, is great to get along with, and just absolutely loves us.  Unfortunately, that’s not what this article is about.

This article is about the other one.  The mean and nasty one that just leaves you muttering under your breath, or forces you to go take a walk around the block before you strangle someone.  Read below, and if any of these are your traits, you may want to consider making some “small” changes.

  1. Too lazy to fill out a Purchase Order correctly.  If you are someone that just constantly can’t fill out a PO right to save your life, get some help!  To enter an order easily on our end, all of the information needs to be organized, accurate and correct.  Some examples are: the delivery date as 00/00/0000, missing information, wrong information, points to an e-mail that was sent three months ago, or was cloned from a previous order but now some of the information isn’t accurate.  This really could be a longer list, and I’m sure if you are customer service rep reading this you have about five thousand more to add.  However, the point here is that missing information makes it hard for someone to help you.  They have to stop what they are doing, try to contact you and get the information, and then get everything corrected and entered quickly.  Two minutes of work is now twenty.
  2. The Price Shopper.  Sure, everyone wants a bargain, it’s understandable.  However, what can be a big problem is when a customer hands us a laundry list of items to quote, all with big quantities.  When the order comes in, it’s only for two of the items and the quantities are minimal.  The words we don’t want to hear are “Congratulations!  You got the order, but for right now I just need these 50.  You can keep the same price as if I order 5,000, right?”  Uh, no.
  3. The guy that’s always late.  Are you that guy?  Every single order is a rush.  Artwork = last minute.  Shirts show up same day as production.  Freight expedited.  It’s like there’s a fire all the time.  Alarm!  Alarm!  Alarm!  Rush!  Rush!  Rush!
  4. The Diva.  You expect to be catered to like a movie star because you bring in big business.  You are condescending and rude to our staff.  Everything is your way or the highway.  After you leave, some staff members are actually crying.  We all wonder if this is worth it, but we put up with it because frankly we like the business.  The most commonly heard phrase after the door closes after you leave is “Wouldn’t it be great if she was just a little nicer?”
  5. The Perfectionist.  This is the customer that micro-manages everything, and absolutely has to complain about every single minor detail all the time.  No matter what…even things that aren’t related to a job.  Just stop it already.  We like it that you want to point out our weaknesses – and believe me, we’re working on them.  However, it’s not our fault that the UPS guy delivered the shipment twenty-two minutes later than yesterday, or the shirts you chose to use were from two different dye lots and don’t exactly match.
  6. Just Do Something Cool.  Just throwing this in from my days as an art director.  This is the absolute worst way to give a creative person some direction, and it holds true for building an apparel program.  Without some good information from you, our team won’t understand where to start and may end up wasting everyone’s time as our definition of cool might not match yours or your clients.  Before you find yourself saying “just do something cool”, spend five minutes and jot down a few things that you would like to see, and maybe five more with something that you absolutely don’t want to see.  At least we’ll have some direction.  Trust me, we don’t mind doing the work and being creative…we’re good at that.  What we don’t want to do though is invest three hours working on something that isn’t even remotely close to what you want, and we have to start over.  That’s not cool.
  7. The “Do Me A Favor” Guy.  Is this you?  Swooping in at the last minute like a seagull on a dock, and dropping off a present that everyone gets to work on?  Sure, we appreciate the business; but your event is in two days and we’ll really have to hustle to get everything accomplished by then.  Thanks for the over-time!  We all wonder if you have a calendar.  Planning?  What’s that?
  8. We aren’t telepathic.  Yep, you heard it here first.  Mind reading skills aren’t on our job descriptions.  So, when we send you an art approval, and your e-mail back reads “Change it”, we aren’t really sure what to do next.  Change what?  We understand that you are in sales and do a lot of business from your phone, but it would be better for everyone if you included more detail in the response.  This helps everyone!
  9. Professionals aren’t profane.  You aren’t Eddie Murphy.  We don’t need to hear F-bombs every five minutes.  You aren’t funny.  Stop it.
  10. Things sometimes go wrong.  Trust me, we don’t like it either.  We’ll make it right, and we always stand behind our work.  However, what separates a great customer from a bad customer in this area is how we’re working together to solve the problem.  Sometimes, it’s our fault – sometimes not.  Regardless, we want to make it better somehow. There is a lot of stress and anxiety in the air already.  The great customers know that empathy works both ways. The great customers don’t point fingers, but just work to resolve the challenge at hand – make the end user happy, and we’ll talk about the money part of it later.

So there you have it.  Just ten.  As we’re dealing with people, there are probably an incredible number of examples of bad customer definitions.  Am I missing any of yours?  Leave a comment…

6 Comments
  • The Death of Customer Service in the Decorated Apparel Industry | atkinsontshirt
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 January Reply

    […] This also can be company wide in how they present their goods and services.  For example, there is a major apparel manufacturer that consistently mixes up skids of shirts.  Instead of shipping them organized by color and size per skid, it’s like they completely randomize the skids.  You couldn’t shuffle cards any better.  We took delivery of their last shipment (of 44,000+ shirts) a few weeks ago and it took six people three hours to sort it out.  Once we found a case of youth mixed up in the order, we cracked open every box.  There were over 1,200 youth shirts mixed in the order by mistake.  Details, people.  Details. […]

  • Arrrgggghhh! 7 Frustrations You Deal with Every Day in Your Shop | atkinsontshirt
    Posted at 09:08h, 20 June Reply

    […] a customer regarding some missing inventory for their order that was due to be produced, and they were outraged that we hadn’t checked it in yet.  “The goods have been there for weeks!”, they said. […]

  • Snakebit Order Curses | atkinsontshirt
    Posted at 06:14h, 28 March Reply

    […] customer finally e-mails you with the missing information and artwork, highly frustrated that they have to follow up on their order on their vacation.  They let you know that their intern assistant will take care of any questions going forward.  […]

  • Pants on Fire | atkinsontshirt
    Posted at 07:46h, 14 March Reply

    […] “Here’s the PO for the order, thanks!”  Sorry, but there’s no ship date included on the PO, it just says 00/00/00.  When should this ship?  “Oh, it doesn’t matter.  Any normal lead time will do.”  (Five days later) “Hey, where are we on that order?  It was due last Friday!”  (Sound of forehead slap) […]

  • Arrowest Custom T-Shirts / Makers of Hallelujah Praisewear & Promotional Products
    Posted at 18:48h, 20 August Reply

    Great piece of advise. keep doing what your doing to make it to the top. Michael Parks/CEO Arrowest Custom T-Shirts/ Makers of Hallelujah Praisewear.(tm) Lets team up on some projects to raise money for worthy causes. Check out our profile page on linkedin.com like “Got HOPE = Heal Our People Everywhere! T-Shirts “(c) all rights reserved I’m open to ideas & sharing the wealth. sincerely: Arrowest Company(tm)

  • Do You Need to Fire Your Customer? | atkinsontshirt
    Posted at 09:28h, 28 July Reply

    […] I’m not sure how many of you out there in the world have problem clients, but I think it’s fairly common.  You know these types; highly demanding, emotional, and always prone to missing or inaccurate information on their jobs.  Just one or two of their orders in house can wreck your production schedule fairly quickly.  After you hang up the phone and cry into your hands you have to ask yourself if doing business with them is really worth the hassle.  (Previously I listed ten annoying characteristics http://atkinsontshirt.com/2013/02/23/dont-be-that-customer/.) […]

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