When the shoe fits… I get flamed.

Well, my last blog entry inspired a nice little flame from the designer in question.

Despite the fact that I didn’t mention him by name, he recognized himself in the post and sent me an email taking me to the wood shed. He dressed me down thoroughly and instructed me that had I followed the instructions on his web site and “contacted him in the specified manner” that he would have gotten back with me sooner.

Here’s a news flash for ANYONE who thinks a potential customer is reading every single word you write… whether it’s a blog, a brochure or an ad that runs in print….

NO ONE READS YOUR COPY AS CAREFULLY AS YOU DO.

The semi colon used on the about page instead of a colon is not going to tip the scales and make someone NOT contact you to hire you for your services…unless you’re offering your services as a proof reader or editor.

As a matter of fact, I’ve seen typos in one place or another on almost every “successful” web site.  It’s the new world order of marketing… “Get it out quickly… mistakes be damned…. make corrections later!”

I’ve been telling clients for a decade now… “The absolute BEST email you can get in your in box (aside from the “I’m interested in hiring you” one)  is the one where the reader corrects your typos!”  Why?  Because that means people are READING your content!!!!  That is the sign that the content featured on your web site/brochure/ad is indeed compelling content and that readers care enough to share their observations with you.

If you’re going to use your Facebook/Myspace/LinkedIn account as your primary web presence… check it daily.

I know… there are people who advise you to ignore your email.  However, I think Steve Pavilina hit the nail on the head with tip #6 on “10 Business Lessons From a Snarky Entrepreneur

Become so organized it disgusts people.  You’ll never achieve perfection, but you’ll be far better off than your peers who spend two weeks every year looking for things they misplaced.  If you aren’t chronically well-organized, punctual, and dependable, rest assured you’re competing with someone who is.

In the end, no one likes to be “dressed down”… however, you must remember…your best customer is not the one who quietly slinks away… and then complains to 15 people about your business.  Your most treasured customer should be the one who voices a complaint.

Kristin Zhivago writes in her post A buyer’s hellish experience

Understand what people want to do on your website. If you’re not mapping out every step of what everyone wants to DO on your website, you’re bound to be frustrating people. This is vitally important. It is also seldom given half the attention it deserves. There is no substitute for getting input from users and watching users try to use your site. Yes, it’s an extra time-consuming process. It’s also one of the most important things you can do to increase revenue.

I contrast that designer’s response with the ABSOLUTELY classy response to a customer service mis-step which appears on the Ingram Micro blog, First Impressions are Hard to Overcome.

So what do you do when such an issue comes to your attention?  The best defense is not defensive at all.  Own up to your mistakes or shortcomings, pledge to try harder and resolve the concerns, and ask that the offended party give you another chance.  Sometimes they will.  Often they won’t.  In either case its an expensive and humbling lesson.

Excuses and deflections will never fly.  Honesty and perseverance might.

My apology to the designer mentioned previously:

I did NOT intend to humiliate you or dress you down.  I intentionally did NOT mention you, our shared client nor my other client by name.  No details were shared which would identify you and that was by design.

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt.  Your work is inspired.  Take my blog post for what it was… insight as to how a potential customer uses your web presence to contact you.

I’m most disappointed that I will not be able to offer your services to my constantly growing list of clients.  I hope my comments will enable you to refine your web presence so it can become a powerful catalyst in building your business.

Oh… and sorry it took me so long to cook that crow so I could eat it!

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