I came across a recent and real example of how a new business loses its credibility in important customer’s mind and how customers feel taken for granted. We all can learn from it.
Pradeep runs a very reputed coaching class in Mumbai. It has more than 5,000 students on its roll. To all these students, they give some stationery like bags, note books, file folders, pens etc. with the coaching class branding. Pradeep ensured that this stationery was always of the best quality. He never compromised on the quality of things on which his brand’s name was printed.
Shrikant, a cousin of Pradeep, started a new wholesale business of PVC file folders. They supplied to bulk users and coaching classes were one of the target customer segments. He approached Pradeep and requested for an order of file folders. Pradeep showed him his regular folders, which were sourced from the best manufacturer with the best brand and quality reputation in the corporate market. Pradeep required 20,000 folders every year. He told Shrikant to provide him the same quality at better rates. Shrikant readily agreed and promised that he will certainly match the quality and will give better price. He took a specimen sample from Pradeep and went to work. Shrikant was very happy that he got a big order right in the beginning of his venture. That was a very good start to build upon, he thought.
The folders were delivered in due course. To Pradeep’s surprise, the quality of folders was not as per the specimen given to Shrikant. It was distinctly inferior. He called up Shrikant and asked for the reason for the difference in quality. He made it clear to Shrikant that he was not happy as the quality obviously did not match that of his earlier supplier. To that Shrikant replied, “I agree the quality is not same. That company gets its material from foreign markets on exclusive basis. It is not available in India to anybody else. What I have given you is the next best to it. And the rate is also 15% less. Sirf unnis bees ka fark hai. Nobody notices in so much detail. Tere students ko kya fark padta hai….? ”
But it made a difference to Pradeep, to whom quality was of supreme importance. He realized that he had made a mistake of experimenting with Shrikant without checking his credibility. He felt that Shrikant should have communicated to him when he found out that the same quality was not possible. Pradeep felt being taken for granted and he disliked it.
He never repeated the order to Shrikant. Shrikant’s inability to understand that customers may forget the price, but they always remember the quality of products cost him a very big customer in the early stage of his business.
Really, customers never forget the bad quality or bad service. And they do not forgive being taken for granted. In the matter of quality, unnis-bees ka fark is a big difference. It can kill the credibility of a business. Forever.