On Monday, I am going to break up with a service provider. We were thrown together when they acquired a small company with whom I enjoyed years of excellent service and personal response. I accepted large bumps in our first encounters, but decided they were the inevitable result of changing partners.
Not so. This service provider is confounding. They excel at consistently failing to show up on time — or at all, making promises and breaking every single one, and insisting that I learn the way that they like to do business. I hired them for one simple service. That’s it. That’s all I want.
At first, I figured I must be doing something wrong so I examined my part of our customer-service provider relationship. I meet every single requirement of our contract, pay my bills in full and on time, bake cookies for workers and tip generously, and go out of my way to accommodate oddball requests. I am an exemplary customer. You want me in your customer base.
The relationship with this provider is not much different from teenaged lovers angst. Consider the parallels in developing a successful relationship:
- Prepare for the date. Make the arrangements, buy the tickets, check the details. Show up on time, car gassed up, seats cleaned and floor clear.
- Show up fully. Be personable. Get out of the car and go up to the door. If you’re visiting, you better be ringing the doorbell with your elbows because you’re bringing flowers, a gift, something you made (or bought) for everyone to enjoy. Talk to the parents, pet the dog, joke with the little brother.
- Give to give. Be present. Be kind, be respectful, behave well throughout the date. Pay attention, ask questions, stay focused on the person. Share your own stories. Listen, laugh, and be considerate.
- Be clear. At the end of the date, be honest about how you feel and what you think. Extend yourself. Do you want to go out again — or was this date a single good time with an interesting person? Listen to and respect what the other says. Make sure you understand one another.
On Friday, with this framework in mind, I researched this service provider (which also fits the dating metaphor). Aghast, I realized that if I knew at the start what I know now, I never would have agreed to do business with them. While you can’t trust most rants (because they are about the ranter), the very same names and issues that I had experienced were cited repeatedly and it would only get worse. Conclusion: unresponsive, abysmal service is standard operating practice — and you should be glad that they deign to deal with you at all.
Let’s break up. I don’t want to know any more than I already do about your management team, internal operations, and dysfunctional attitudes. I know that we will each find other partners that meet our needs. Best of luck.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s not me. It’s you.