The customer is always right, but the supplier is also human. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant will confirm that a customer who sends back food in a rude manner might end up getting what they want, but it’ll almost certainly come with unwanted extras. I’m sure you’ll admit to treating some customers with more care and respect than others. We all do. But how did they become your favourite customers? Can you learn from that, and use it to be your own suppliers’ favourite customer? I always think it’s worth the effort to put yourself in that position. You get better service, better terms and maybe even better prices. And it makes life a lot more enjoyable.
Here’s what I love in a client. Firstly, they make me feel that we’re on the same side. Secondly, we agree what they want – as clearly as possible – and they leave me to deliver on that agreement. Finally, they conduct business with a chat and a smile, even through email. If I get all of those three, my inclination is to over-deliver. But if they’re adversarial, overbearing or unsociable, I find myself being professional …and that’s it.
Of course, many customers just want their suppliers to be efficient and professional, and no more. I suppose the world would work reasonably well that way. Nice people, they say, just get trampled in the rush to the exit. But I can’t help noticing that when I have the time and inclination to write someone a friendly email, it’s more likely to produce a more prompt, more positive response than a terse instruction ever would. What do you think?