It’s amazing how many stupid rule decisions get made without considering the associated costs of annoying clients. If you’re an equine professional, selling to the small business market or a horse membership organization decision maker do you think about the customers’ reactions with efficiency or protection ideas? Today’s talkative social media environment demands you confirm the message you send with policy that isn’t offending those you purport to serve.

Social media and technology can hurt you

Do you have procedures in place that say you don’t trust your customers? How much confidence they should put in you? Are you so focused on collections that you implement blanket approaches that fail to consider the longevity, character, history and relationship with important business supporters? How will loyal and trusted centers-of-influence react to this? Have you delegated operational activities to an automated system or person who doesn’t recognize the importance of the relationships you’ve built? What is your reaction to an impersonal, procedural message from an organization you’ve helped build? Do you subscribe to rigid rules that don’t consider mitigating circumstances? Are you prepared to lose some of your most valued and valuable followers?

So many are singing the praises of technology and how much time it can save. Time saved doesn’t mean much if you’re losing clients and supporters. Consider this as you embrace another efficient approach or caustic policy to supposedly underscore your business or organizational goals. You may find it does anything but. With huge numbers embracing the internet and its delivery tools, word spreads faster every day. The question is – what words will they be saying about you?

Chasing away referral agents?

Recently, BookConductors, LLC ® hired a new vendor to help support an equine book series. Great experience with the skill and responsiveness of the team, but this was clouded by a policy process that demonstrates they don’t trust their clients. It’s a sad introduction to the company that unnecessarily undermines the experience. Full payment before deliverables, sign-offs on minutia and defensively worded contracts sent an overriding message that cast-in-stone procedures are more important than building client rapport. Will I continue to use them as a service provider – probably. Will I recommend them to others – probably not. Sadly, I would have sung their praises loudly if they didn’t make me feel like a suspected criminal. Short-sighted.

Alienating your best clients?

The farm mortgage holder has recently decided best practices include engaging an India-based telemarketing firm to call all clients the minute the grace period starts for payments, lying with a message that the payment is late in a manner that is insulting and hostile. This may be an effective way to hang on to some of their lousiest clients, but those with the credit scores and equity to walk will be gone from their portfolio if this continues. Dumb.  

Membership organization losses?

This year, Halcyon Acres left a rare breed association we had given a lot to (including time on the BOD). Sadly, it seems organizations created to help bloodlines avoid extinction draw the crazies (a wise member suggested this was because they had been kicked out of all the popular breed registries). In this case, a tiny minority is determined to drive the culture into combative factions with related actions that chase out any contributors with equine knowledge and success. To the manipulators, this game presents delightful wins that allows them to look important and stay entrenched as gurus.  It’s killing the organization and the breed. The members best equipped to help support the breed and the society leave – along with a good number of others who quickly surmise there’s little to be gained from association and potentially a lot to lose. All the money from membership, registration, advertising, donations, outreach, etc. with this desertion is gone, along with any positive words to support the reputation of the organization. Guess where majority effort is put to spur the conflict – the online forums. Silly.

Dig your own grave

I don’t have much sympathy for those companies and organizations that whine when they’ve fostered their own demise. If you’re alienating your best customers, you deserve to fail.

The economy is admittedly tough right now, but I’m not hearing of struggles from those who operate with character, integrity and smarts. Think about how fear or self-centeredness is affecting your message. Have you tallied the costs? If policy is king without a means to assess how this may jade some of your most valuable existing or potential customers, you’re asking for a hurting that’s probably justified.

There are ways to protect yourself without making your clients feel like dirt. Inflexible mandates targeting the lousiest customers don’t usually work well with the best. Instead of systems designed to handle the least important prospects/clients, think about how you can rise above the norm by making your most valued customers and prospects feel like royalty with a personalized approached. Technology and/or systems can save you a lot of time, done right, but when it replaces all personal interface, you lose.


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