Question: Poor Customer Service Caused Me To Cancel A Large Order. Should I Tell The Sales Manager?

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A Distributor Asks: I was recently working with a supplier on a $15,000 order, but poor customer service resulted in me canceling this order with the supplier and taking my business elsewhere. If you owned the company, or if you were the sales manager, would you want to know the reasons behind my decision?

Yes. I would absolutely want to know so that we can correct the situation. Actually, if there is an issue, other than a minor one, I always tell my customer service folks to let me handle it. I am nuts for excellent customer service.

Maria LaFichi
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
MAC Specialties Ltd.
Oceanside, New York
PPAI 112420, S6

If I were a supplier, I would want to know, and I would appreciate it if you told me directly so I could decide how to deal with it.

David Holden
President, Ideas Plus Promotions
Sales Partner, Geiger
Clovis, California

If I had a problem that was so bad that a customer had to call me personally, I would take the information and ask to call him/her back. On the second phone call, I would have my entire order management team in my office on the call listening firsthand to the customer. This shows the customer how important they are to us, how important it was for our management team to hear the information from the customer, and then we were all together, so we could educate, train and make system changes, so we can prevent this from happening in the future. The culture of caring starts at the top. All companies screw up. The good ones “wow” you with how they handle the problem.

Bob Bickert
Owner and President
Bickert Investments, LLC
Mobile, Alabama

As a supplier, I would want to know why we didn’t live up to your expectations. We want to improve and ensure that our company expectations and company vision are what we execute to our customers. Sure, it may hurt to hear that, however, you are helping that company become stronger and better by allowing them to correct issues. Correct action leads to being better and becoming better. Who knows—as the company gets better, which hopefully it will, you may end up partnering with them on future opportunities/projects.

Dan Ball, MAS
Sales Manager
Command Tooling Systems LLC
St Paul, Minnesota

One-hundred-percent absolutely! It may be the best learning experience of their career, or their worst. Either way, management needs to know. They can’t fix what they don’t know is broken.

Jane Ryan
Regional Business Development Manager
BAG MAKERS, Inc.
Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
PPAI 111408, S10

I would tell the vendor/higher-up at the vendor about the problem and also identify what you think should have been done. I would also say something positive (why you chose them or that you hope to do business with them in the future), not to sugarcoat but because we are in this industry together as a team of suppliers/distributors. The supplier may be more likely to help you on a future order. If you do this verbally, please follow up in writing—even if it is to say thank you for all the things you identified, or to say how disappointed you are about what they didn’t do (and then include whatever the complaint is about).

Holly Wollins Schotz
Brand Consultant
All Wrapped Up
Clarksville, Maryland 

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A Distributor Asks: As a result of all the coronavirus-related changes, I recently lost my job, despite my department seeing a 200-percent increase in sales last year. I decided to just break out in the industry on my own. I have been in this business for almost 10 years. What is your top advice for me going on my own now? 

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Email your response(s) to Question@ppai.org for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.   

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Comments (1)
Jennifer Walker
January 14, 2022
You should absolutely let the sales manager know. I'm certain he/she would welcome the information. While it may be difficult to hear, changes and improvements can't be made if they are unaware of the difficulties customers are having with the sales process.
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