Full Version: No News, is Bad News!

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1]
 6 Feb 2005

No doubt, we've all heard the adage "No news is good news." The inherent wisdom dictates that if we hear no bad news, either a problem doesn't exist, or the problem has blown over; We've dodged a bullet.

Truth is, "No news is bad news". Let me clarify that point. I'm not referring to the news you receive from a person or client, I'm talking about the news a person or client hears from you.

When first starting my engraving business, I followed the example displayed to me by the owners of the trophy shops I had worked for. If there happened to be a problem with a job, we would wait for the client to come in or phone and then explain the problem. Sometimes we wouldn't even admit to having a problem and handed the customer the engraved item in hopes that they wouldn't be very picky and would accept the job without a word. If the customer had an objection, we would then set about rectifying the problem.

I hadn't been self employed very long before I had an experience which prompted me to adopt a practice of the "preemptive strike" (contacting the customer before they had a chance to contact me)

I had been producing custom golf awards for a corporation which had an annual event. The awards consisted of a jade acrylic diamond faceted octagon atop a shaped black marble base with sterling silver engraving plates. They were gorgeous and fairly pricey; about $200 apiece.

I did the awards for a couple of years with no problems. One year, I tried a new kind of clear tape, specifically designed to adhere acrylic pieces to bases of another material, such as wood, or in my case, marble.

The client called a couple of days after their event and informed me that, upon presentation of an award to one of the recipients, the marble base came loose, dropped to the ground and suffered a major chip. I was embarrassed and immediately retrieved the trophy to make the necessary repairs.

Here's where I went wrong.

I used the logic of the trophy shops for which I had worked and made a unilateral judgement call. I figured that since the broken marble base was a custom item which would take a while to have another made, that the customer would probably want to have the award back as soon as possible and I went about substituting the shaped-base with a very attractive, but flat marble base. Instead of the sterling engraving plate being on the angled front of a shaped base, I placed the plate on top of the flat marble base. I sent the award back and waited to see what they would say.

I never heard anything good or bad about my decision to substitue the base. No news was good news. Right?

The next year, I called my contact at the company to make arrangements for the golf awards. The contact told me the awards were being handled by another person in one of their branches in another state. I said, "That's fine. Give me their name and I'll make arrangements with that person." I was informed that the other person had decided to go with another design which didn't require my assistance.

That's when I realized I was being let down easy. No news wasn't just bad news; it was fatal news. I lost the lucrative account simply because I hadn't let the customer be part of the decision making process in the repair of the trophy.

Now, at the first hint of a problem with job, I immediately contact the customer and explain what the problem is and after explaining their options, come up with a viable solution.

Invariably, the customer is grateful that I've made the effort to contact them with the bad news. Keeping the lines of communication open and being honest, in the face of disaster, has allowed me, not only to keep a good customer, but to get a steady supply of word-of-mouth advertising.

The best advertising you can't buy at any price. :-)

David "The Stunt Engraver" Lavaneri
DGL Engraving
Port Hueneme, CA

EDITED: 6 Feb 2005 by DGL

From: laserman (MIKEMAC) [#2]
 7 Feb 2005
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1] 7 Feb 2005


Although I grieve for you and your experience.

"In our business no news is good news."

Simply because the equipment that we service is not broken down.

On the other hand we have that customer that complains we don't stay in touch with them and they struggle with nagging little issues until they boil over and explode then it is all our fault because they did not let us know or we did not contact them.

The moral of the story is "Communication" the better you do it the happier that contact will be. Weather it be bad news or good its still the thought of communicating that makes all the difference in the world.

This is why this forum is a great resource for everyone.

From: JHayes55 [#3]
 7 Feb 2005
To: laserman (MIKEMAC) [#2] 7 Feb 2005

Whether the Weather be good or bad communication is very important. But reading between the lines is even more important – and if you do not believe it ask your wife. :)

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