Why It’s Good To Be Told That You Suck

Last week one of our larger clients contacted us and requested a meeting. We asked them what they needed and they just said that they wanted to speak with us. We reluctantly agreed to a meeting on Thursday morning.

We arrived a few minutes early and sat down; I couldn’t read anyone in the place. I had no idea if this was a good meeting or a bad meeting, I was nervous as hell. Mike came to the table we were at, made a joke about my hair and sat down. I started to relax.

Mike explained that a competitor had come in and brought him some coffee samples. My heart sank, “here comes the axe” I thought. He really liked the coffee that the other man brought him. He liked it more than he liked the coffee we currently provided him with.

Mike said the only problem was that he really liked working with us. So he gave us an opportunity to create a new blend and bring it in for him next week. He looked me dead in the eyes and said that if it was anyone else he would’ve just axed us. No explanation. No meeting; just the axe.

I kept driving around to our other customers with Mike’s complaint ringing in the back of my head. It really sucks when you work extremely hard on something and you find out that someone prefers your competitions product. I felt sick.

Then I remembered what he said. If it wasn’t for our great relationship with Mike he would’ve just called us to pickup our equipment. Instead, we had an opportunity to keep the account and we had a fantastic opportunity to create an even better product. Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.

We worked on a few new blends and brought them to Mike. He was impressed. We briefly discussed price and then we shook hands. Poof! We made the other coffee supplier disappear.

The other supplier could have easily made us disappear. The best thing that happened in this situation was that our customer told us we needed to do better. Do not be one of those people that shut out criticism and create some bullshit story in their head about how everyone else is wrong and they are right.

Take the criticism. Make the changes necessary. Keep the customer. If a customer just stops spending money with you with no explanation you lose and you don’t learn. When they do tell you, you still might lose (you can’t please everyone), but you will surely learn. Don’t forget to thank them for letting you know that you suck. Thanks Mike.


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