Written by Nancy Okun on September 16, 2011 at 11:31 am
I sell saddles. That’s my job but, in reality what I do is listen to people’s saddle fitting problems and try my very best to help them. When the phone rings, or I open an email, I know one thing for certain: I have at least one thing in common with you before I even know your name or riding discipline, and that’s that we share a love for our horses and we want what’s best for them. With that in mind my main focus is to listen – really listen – to what you have to say. I want to know about your horse, I want to see photos and tracings, I want to know how he/she is moving in your current saddle and I need to know your particular likes and dislikes. At that moment you are my only customer and should be given every bit of my attention. I try my very best to put the whole picture together and make some suggestions for saddles for your horse that hopefully will put a smile on both of your faces! I am happy to walk you through every step of the process until I’m sure you have the best fitting saddle you can afford. Not to pat myself on the back … but I think I do this with a honest and caring attitude. I’m truly happy when I match up the right saddle for horse and rider. Trust me, I will not let you buy a saddle that I think is not right for your horse.
Because I do this 8 hrs a day 5 days a week I greatly appreciate when I get the same kind of service when I’m making a purchase … and on the other hand … boy, does it get me upset when I am treated poorly.
Recently I switched from ordering buckets of equine supplements from Smart Pack to those cute little Smart Pack individual containers. I resisted doing this for years because, being Italian, I love to “cook” for my horses and enjoy taking a scoop of this and two scoops of that and mixing it in with the grain and beet pulp. When I went on line to order the monthly packets and get my snazzy plastic container for each horse, I hit some random buttons and somehow reinstated an old Smart Pack order for Rianon that was put on hold 2 years ago. Two days later the supplements came in the mail. $132.00 worth. Uh Oh! My Bad, I thought. I am not very computer savvy so I knew it was my error. I called Smart pack to tell them I’d screwed up and not to send any more of these particular supplements for Rianon. The rep listened carefully and kindly and said, “No problem. I’ll credit your card and YOU CAN KEEP THE SUPPLIMENTS!” Holy Cow! This is not the first time I’ve received such outstanding service from SmartPack … and it is exactly why I am a loyal customer, and I tell all my friends there is nowhere else to shop!
On the other hand …
Last August I sold my house, which I heated with Propane. I thought at the real estate closing we figured out the cost of the propane which was left in the tank when I moved out, and the new owner had added that amount in one of the various checks that changed hands that day. I openly admit I am a fiscal nightmare. I’ve never balanced a check book in my life. I’m eternally grateful for online banking because I can see on a daily basis if I have “enough” or “not enough” in my checkbook.(It’s the only criteria I go by since I’m always on the edge of a zero balance.) So, I never feel confident I am anywhere near correct in situations with dollar signs involved.
In September I received a statement from the Propane company which said I still had a $350 credit with them. Hmmm. I figured they’d get it straightened out next month. Not so. Same statement came in October. I called left a message to explain the situation. No call back. I called again and spoke to someone who took down the information with impatience and not much concern. In the next 8 months I wrote 3 letters and made at least 6 phone calls for them to stop wasting paper and postage. I said either stop sending the statements … or if indeed you owe me $350 send me a check!! I don’t live there anymore!! Still the invoices kept coming (to my new address) without a call back or comment.
Last month I opened an envelope from them to find a check, which I quickly deposited in my check book because I was clearly at a “not enough” financial moment. This month I received yet another statement. This time is said zero balance! I’m very curious to see if I get another “zero” invoice next month! This is not a company I would do business with again.
To be in a customer service job you truly need to truly like people and truly want to help them … not because it’s your job and you get a pay check at the end of each week, but because it’s the right thing to do. Someone told me that if you answer the phone with a smile on your face it comes through in your voice. I think it does. It certainly helps that I get to talk “horse” to people all day long instead of, say, printers or machine parts! What I do is not rocket science nor will it change the world for the better, but as a rider I know how important it is for you and your horse to move in harmony in the right saddle. I’ve had to talk plenty of people down from almost sheer panic when they’ve ordered a custom saddle elsewhere which didn’t fit at all and they were unable to return it. I’ve lied to countless husbands about the price of saddles, I’ve cried with customers who have lost their beloved horse, I’ve helped some really challenging horse/rider combinations … and most importantly, have made so really good friends in the process. (Some even sent me chocolate for my efforts … hint hint!) The best thing about my job is that I know most of my customers truly appreciate my efforts and take the time to say so in a note or email long after the sale is finished. When people are treated with honesty and integrity it usually comes right back to you.
Well, at least in a perfect world it should.
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