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Your Angry Customer

Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer? Or several? Or many? Who was your angriest customer? What happened? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What advice do you have?

Please share your thoughts... - by Skip Anderson
We had the rights to distribute in Canada testing software from a US company (tools designed to assist the software development team in assessing their work).

A massive international conglomerate (with NA head office in Ottawa and development in NB) acquired a small US-based company. During the "shake-out" of the acquistion, we were contacted by the client's develpment team in New Brunswick that they were going to be requiring complex, dedicated support along with a proposal to acquire more "seats". As I got into the topic, it became apparent that the client's legal department had made a HUGE assumption about the rights to software licenses which were held by the company which they'd acquired.

The internal planning was so far down the road that they'd been involved with conceptual proprosals to a number of clients in Asia. The implied revenues were in the hundreds of millions as the application had to do with load balancing for cable companies as "pay-per-view" was a fledling topic over there.

When I informed the VP in N.B., he was extremely professional in his reaction but there was no mistaking that this would not be taken lightly. I worked with him to re-submit his budget but the cost of the licenses was simply not allocated in the initial project plan.

I worked diligently with the supplier (everyone from General Counsel to the President). In the middle of the adventure, we'd worked out a 50% discount and arranged for support to get the project off the ground. However, it still represented over $127K of un-budgetted funds.

At the time, there were only two of us working in this time zone (our H.O. was in Vancouver). The client needed to work through his offices in the Netherlands, so, we had a few time zones to accommodate! Purchasing (Ottawa) called in August to say that he had a P.O. for on his desk but it was for well less than necessary) ...

It was getting virtually impossible to keep the exec's at our US supplier happy, "... someone's gettin' thrown under the bus for this one ..."!

We put an absolute priority on EVERY single line item promised to the client and kept our stakeholder in N.B. intimately informed. Finally, P.O. was ready after a full year.

Interestingly, I got stiffed for the commission on the largest single transaction in the company's history. Go figure ...

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
My angriest client actually turned into someone who referred a friend who wrote a personal check to my compnay for 6 million dollars.

'Bob' in Boston joined our program (fractional ownership of learjet's). His first 3 flying experiences were disasters. Mechanicals, weather...you name it, it happened. He missed an important board meeting because of the plane being late.

He had 2 close friends in the program who had not had any serrvice issues. That made it worse. he thought we were singling him out.

He was going to sue, take out a full page ad in the WSJ saying we didn't deliver on promises, etc.

I escalated this quickly to senior management. For the next 6 months, every time he had a flight we sent 2 planes. If 1 had an issue, the other one was there.

After about a year, he hadn't had any other issues, wrote us a great testimonnial and referred a friend who became an owner--the 6 million dollar check.

Bbottom line is--don't run away from customer issues. Take wonership early and see it through. it will gain you endless customer loyalty.

Susan - by susana
Thanks for the great story Susana. Who else has an "angry customer" story? - by Skip Anderson
A couple years ago an angry customer showed up at a presentation we were doing, A few minutes before it was to be