Customer service that’s barely there

The client wanted to advertise in a local publication for the first time in years. I had sent other business to the printer who produced it in the past, so I emailed my customer service contact with a simple question: is your company still printing this publication?

Instead of answering my question, she replied with “I’m now working in a different department and Jane Doe is now handling projects like that.” Clearly, she didn’t want to be bothered by my request., even though I had used this printer for multiple projects and presumably was a customer they wanted to keep.

Had she worked for a huge, big-city printer, that response might not have surprised me.  However, this was a small-town printing company with only a dozen or so people on the payroll, all working in one small building.

How different would my impression have been if she instead replied, “Yes, we’re still printing it, but your new contact will be Jane Doe.” That way, she would have answered my question and made sure I knew not to send future questions her way — and done it all in a friendly, helpful way that made me think she valued my business.

But she did no more than the minimum. Now my impression of this printing company is that they really don’t care about my business or my clients. The next time one of my clients needs to have a pricey project printed, who do you think I’m going to turn to?

Compare that to the folks at the Trader Joe’s supermarket chain. Discover that you’ve forgotten something while you’re at the checkout counter, and another employee will race back to the aisle to find it for you. Rather than stare at the scanner, the cashier will engage you in friendly, genuine conversation. “Have you tried stir-frying that vegetable mix with chicken and a little garlic? I’ll do that some nights and serve it on rice. Takes about five minutes, and it’s a healthy meal. Next time you’re here, we have another mix you’d probably like …” And that’s why I drive past at least two dozen other supermarkets to shop there.