Fire Me Please!! (WARNING: Rant Ahead)

There comes a point in time with every sales person where you simply cannot service all of the accounts you’ve got. Since I’m just now getting back into sales, I unfortunately have yet to get back to this happy place. It’s an interesting position to be in. What it implies is that you have so much great business, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to give all of your customers the attention and responsiveness they need. It also means you’re in jeopardy of becoming just like every other shmuck who provides bad, half assed customer service. It means that you’re in horrible jeopardy of your reputation being compromised. It may in fact mean that these have already happened.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in this position or on the cusp of this position (and you know who you are), you may wish to consider asking one of your less busy associates to either help you service the account (with some kind of fair commission split), or take it over outright. If you don’t have an associate, perhaps a friendly competitor not currently as busy as you?

What you don’t want to happen is that you become so short sighted, so desperate, so greedy that you steadfastly refuse to let your client go thereby causing them undo aggravation and unpleasantness.

I currently find myself on the other side of this equation right now and I can’t tell you how pissed off I am. Long story somewhat short, I have an accountant that I’ve been using for many years who clearly has many more important clients than me. This is all too evident in his lagging response time, inattentiveness, and general “I don’t give a fuck about you” attitude. Even worse than all of that, he’s one of these people who clearly don’t actually read e-mails in their entirety. He just reads the first sentence and reply’s leaving whatever other questions or issues I’ve raised unanswered thereby elongating the entire process of answering my simple requests or questions. And please don’t think I’m sending him lengthy e-mails. They are as short as I can make them and very to the point making this tactic that much more infuriating.

Now I get it. Believe me I get it. He’s busy. Times are tough and the worlds in the shitter but he’s ok. His business is thriving. And he doesn’t have enough time in the day. And he’s got clients he obviously makes much more money from then yours truly. Believe me when I tell you, I get it.

So Matt, “What would you have him do?” you may ask. Well allow me to reply.

FIRE ME! Just fire me as a client and let me get on with my life and don’t put me in this horrible, awful, hostile place I currently find myself where I feel as though you’re doing me some kind of favor in spite of the fact that I’m paying you for your time.

PLEASE JUST FIRE ME! As long as it’s not a couple days before the 15th of April, it will be much better than having to deal with all of these negative emotions and feelings your neglect and disrespect are causing me. Sure, I’ll be annoyed. I don’t want to have to go through the exercise of finding another accountant. Just more time wasted as far as I’m concerned. But at least I can get on with my life. Shit happens. I’m a big boy. I’ll understand.

The key is to try and do it before it gets to this point.

The key is, recommend another accountant before it gets to this point. Pass me off to an underling (which he’s got) before it gets to this point. I’m not above it. Just please don’t put the onus on me. Please don’t become just another shmuck with bad customer service.

Where my accountant is concerned, he’s too late.

The solutions I just mentioned (other than outright firing) go hand in hand with the way Tony Hsieh built Zappos into the online powerhouse that Amazon bought for a billion dollars. If you’re in a service business and you don’t follow him, change that right now. Hsieh entered an already crowded marketplace by blowing away the competition with better customer service than anyone had ever experienced in online history. He commanded his customer service team to do anything and everything for their customers even if that meant physically referring them to a competitor because Zappos was out of whatever shoes they might have been looking for. That just because they were losing a sale, the net results of a move like this would come back to them with ten-fold returns. He called it the WOW FACTOR and there is no better example of the way a service business should operate. If you’ve never been to their offices in Henderson, Nevada, GO! They offer tours to anyone (yes, anyone) that wants one and they’ll even pick you up at your hotel. I’ve been. It’s worth it. I learned so much from it and adapted many of their business practices where customer service is concerned.

Take this morning for example. A perspective customer contacts me wanting to build an online merchandise store to raise funds for his non-profit. He wants to populate the store with various branded merchandise which he can then try and sell to his vast database of members with the hope that he’ll raise enough money to keep his non-profit alive. Great for me. A risky proposition at best for him with involving large start up costs he may or may not ever recoup. It’s hard enough for Disney to sell merchandise let alone this guy for his non-brand, non-profit.

Rather than giving him my hard sell and persuading him to let me build him a great web-store with all kinds of shirts, hats, mugs, bumper-stickers and pens as I could have, I told him the better option at this stage was for him to test the market by using one of the print on demand places on the internet. That he could set up something called a “virtual store” and offer merchandise that could be printed and fulfilled when it was ordered (as opposed to a typical online store program which utilizes pre-made inventory). That I simply would not put him in a position where he was left with an endless array of premium swag that no one wants which he would have no other choice but to give it all to charity in six months. This way, if his virtual store had any kind of success as he thinks it might, he can come back to me and I can set him up with a real, kick-ass, custom store all tricked out the way it ultimately should be like we do all the time. One with full back office/back end support and custom merchandise unlike the run of the mill crap everyone else and their mother peddles morning, noon and night.

The point is, as much as I need his business, it would have cost me more if I just sold him as I could have. The further point is, take care of your customers and they will take care of you. Hokey, I suppose. True, none the less. And remember this– if I teach you nothing else today: it’s ok to turn away business. In fact, in many instances, it’s necessary. It may hurt at first but in the end, it’s the best thing for everyone. Just like Sting said, “If you love someone, set them free.” And the same if you don’t love them. Just get on with it already.

Thanks for listening. Gotta go. I’ve got an accountant to replace.




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