I have a simple rule for working with potential and current customers: think about how I would like to be treated in any situation, then go as may steps as I can beyond that. In today’s competitive marketplace, only the remarkable stands out, and that’s always been my goal, whether it’s the work I produce, how I display and present it, or how I interact with others. I think about how to achieve this goal constantly, in fact you can say I’m obsessed about it.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
1. What do you do when you’ve printed, matted and framed a large print for a customer, and just before you put it in the box for shipping realize that there are barely visible streaks of glass cleaner on the inside of the glass that can only be seen when you look at the print under a bright light at at a certain angle? Also, UPS is due to pickup in 15 minutes, and it has to ship out that day to make the promised delivery time?
My only choice was to take the frame completely apart, re-clean the glass, assemble again, MAKE SURE the glass was completely clean by having my quality control department run an inspection (wife and son), then package the frame. At this point I’ve missed the UPS truck, so I had to drive to the nearest UPS drop-off 15 miles away to ensure delivery as promised. Would the customer have noticed the streaks? Doubtful, but I noticed, and that made it unacceptable.
2. What do you do when you ship a framed print to a new customer and the glass breaks during shipment?
This happened twice recently. In one instance, I called a local frame shop and pre-paid to have the frame picked up, have a new piece of glass installed, then delivered to the customer the same day. In another instance, the frame was damaged as a result of the glass breaking, so I made a completely new print, and personally delivered it to the customer’s home. Were there other ways to handle this? Sure, but none that would have been acceptable to me.
There is nothing like building a true relationship with a customer, and if I’m fortunate, gaining a friend. Not only do I love what I do, but I feel honored when someone is willing to purchase one of my prints. It truly means a great deal to me, and I feel a responsibility to reward that customer with the best experience I can provide. This has many benefits down the road, both to the customer and myself. I’ve learned that referrals are like gold, but they must be earned to be truly effective. Once earned, they are more powerful than the biggest advertising or marketing budgets. I’ve created a relationship one person at a time, and that is truly satisfying.
I’m at the One Of Kind Show in NYC this weekend, and you can be sure I’ll be focusing on building new relationships with people who like and enjoy coming closest to nature.