WARNINGToday’s blog post is a bit of rant.  If you are not in the mood for a tale of  poor customer service, please come back tomorrow.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about companies suffering memory loss, forgetting why they started the business as they grew.  They start to focus on investors and bottom line results and lose the passion for what they set out to do.  But I have noticed another type of memory loss which starts to occur. Companies (and business owners) forgetting their roots, forgetting the customers and strategic partners who supported them in the early days of their business.

I understand.  Companies grow and change.  And as they grow, they can’t continue to deliver service exactly as they did when they were small.  If this happens to your company, face it head on.  Have the tough conversations with clients you love and help them find new resources.

We had to do that with several long-time clients  last year.  They had been with us for years, but the services we provided them, primarily administrative, were no longer part of our service offering.  We had continued to do it for them, because we had done if for so long.  But it was holding us back, sucking resources which needed to be directed to other, bigger projects.  We had to let go.

It was tough.  We felt like we were abandoning someone who had been a part of our family.  But we knew we needed to do it, before we ended up hating at each other. We talked about alternatives and parted on good terms. What we didn’t do was send emails like this:

Lorraine:,   My father is working full-time handling all billing issues.  Together he and our support desk  will be able to service your accounts.   I have completely removed myself from support and billing allowing me to fully focus on prospecting national accounts.

Regardless of how it was intended, I read it as I am not as important as his national accounts.  Should I be offended? After all, I had involved him in more than 50 projects and sent countless other referrals his way.  I was offended.  I thought we were strategic partners, working together to grow each others’ business.  Clearly, I was wrong.

When we had a  service issue, I called and talked to the new admin ( probably hired to protect him). I told her I wanted to speak to him as the owner of the company.  He didn’t return my call.  When we had another service issue, I insisted he talk to me. During the conversation he informed me he had stepped out of “an important meeting” to take my call.  Translation: I am not important.

So what to do?  I won’t embarrass him and call him out by name.  I will simply take my business elsewhere, and look harder at how we handle customer transitions when they occur, to be sure I never let anyone feel this way about us.

There, I feel better.  We can now return to our regularly scheduled marketing posts. Or while you are here, enjoy a short video on customer service recorded at BlogIndiana last month.