I know I have written about customer retention before but, really, surely it is the easiest part of the sales process?
I recently organised a huge conference with all of our most senior directors globally in one location. The venue was fantastic, the conference a success and, in the middle of the week, we held a team building exercise which was, to be brutally honest, just an excuse for them all to pretend to be macho for the day!
And it doesn’t get much more machismo than a day racing highspeed two-stroke karts around a famous circuit near the venue.
Naturally, the leading lights chose the members of the teams using precious little consideration towards team-building, the object of the exercise, and much more towards building teams for themselves that would be able to challenge for the trophies.
With the lads ‘at play’ I grabbed the opportunity to catch up with emails sitting on the pit verandah sipping a very generous fruit filled Pimm’s. Suddenly there were blaring sirens, marshals running around with red flags and a plume of dust emerging from behind the trees. Very soon the ‘walking wounded’ appeared from behind the copse but, instead of being relieved that no-one had been hurt in what had been a high-speed crash, the CEO could be heard yelling at the top of his voice. Apparently, one of the professional drivers who were part of every team for the event had rammed into the back of the CEO’s kart taking them both out of the race with badly damaged machines. I later heard that the professional driver complained the ‘novice’ had braked at an entirely wrong place leaving him with no-where to go.
However, now this was my problem and with my CEO left very angry and directing his frustration towards the event organisers quite forcibly.
Upon returning to the hotel, he decided he wanted further conversation with the company and demanded they come for a meeting. The company were fantastic, turned up within 15 minutes, sat with him, placated him, took full responsibility for the problems and at the end of the day, simply said ‘sorry!’
If I am honest, the problems were not 100% the fault of the event company but, because they wanted repeat business from us, they were prepared to take it on the chin. Of course, it paid off and we had gone from a situation of CEO demanding we would not pay them, to looking at booking a repeat event for next year.
They also turned up the following day with a small gift for me, apologising if they had in any way damaged my reputation and asking if there was anything else they could do – a great move because they had me on side now, too, to further placate the situation. The most important thing they did for me was to take the problem away and simply offer me solutions, take full responsibility and listen, not arguing about who is to blame and just accepting the issues.
Next year, though, I think we might get them to organize something a little less dangerous – chocolate moulding perhaps?