GM once threatened to shut down Saab as the deal to sell the brand to a Dutch car-maker languished. I'll leave it to others to debate whether this is a smart negotiating technique. In the meantime, I'd like to address a more personal issue: I used to own a SAAB and was very happy with it over many years.
One day, I received a letter from my local dealer. As I opened it, I guessed that it would tell me to keep the faith in the Saab dealer's service department in spite of the pending sale —that I need not worry about an interruption in service. I also thought the letter would suggest that I look to buy a new Saab at a discount given the uncertainty over the future of the brand.
What I got instead was the same form letter that I've been getting from this Saab dealer for years. I was nearing a scheduled maintenance for the car, the letter observed, and I should call the dealer's service department for an appointment.
Really? That was it? There was no mention of Saab's future. The omission was so conspicuous that I wondered if Saab might be closing its doors any day now and that this was just a scheduled direct mail piece that someone didn't bother to cancel.
That letter represented a missed opportunity. The dealer had a chance to sell me on staying loyal to the brand, and it blew it. This got me thinking: What openings have I missed with my clients? What seemingly obvious chances have I missed to communicate with them, to quell their fears, to give them new information, or to sell them new products and services? More important, how can I make sure I don't miss chances like this in the future?
Where are you missing opportunities to communicate better with your clients? Could you improve that communication by including a nice note along with the invoice? A personal call following a blunder? Picking up the check at lunch when it’s not expected? The opportunities are probably endless. As organizations grow, they sometimes get wrapped up in the routine of how they do things. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a time out, bring in a fresh perspective and re-examine your routine practices – small things can make a world of difference to your customer.