Outstanding Customer Service

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How Not to Make a Good First Impression


This is a story from a decade ago that has always stuck with me. It speaks to the cost of a lost customer, and to the importance of that first impression in customer service.

My wife and I had been looking at building a new house, and were looking at investing somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 – $60,000 on a solar installation on our roof. After doing some online research, I found the names of a couple of companies and sent them off an email to start a conversation. Two days later I received an email response with fewer than 3 words on it.

You never have a second chance

The thing is, this may be the greatest company in the world, but they never got the chance to show us how good they are. One person’s unwillingness to use simple, basic email etiquette and decorum – adding an extra 90 seconds to his workday and composed his thoughts – cost them a customer. Who says there’s no payoff to improving customer service?
Here is a transcript of the two emails:

My email:


We are planning to build a new house. The goal is to make it as energy efficient as possible. The back roof is unobstructed, and would be dedicated to solar. I am hoping to be able to create a system that will offset a large portion of our electrical usage, and will serve us if need be during power failures, etc. I don’t really understand the process well, but I’m envisioning a panel-battery system that draws off the grid whenever necessary. Is this something you can help us with? I’m out of town on Monday, but if someone could call me later in the week that would be great.

His response:

PLS contact me (phone number)


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