Customer Service Lies at the Root of it All

Customer service has always been at the core of our business. I learned a very important lesson early in my career about how long lasting and valuable “going the extra mile” really is. That lesson has stuck with me through the years and I work hard to impart this knowledge to my staff. I think they do a really great job in this area.

Many years ago, when thornley creative was in its inception, I was off to an early morning press check for a national flyer. The colours were vibrant and looked great – but much to my dismay I discovered a mistake. The file had been assembled with the right cover and the wrong interior pages for one region.  It was early in the morning, we had a tight deadline and we needed to get these shipped. I immediately went into problem solving mode – it was imperative that we find a solution. Fortunately, the printer was a great contact and offered to re-run the job on a press in Winnipeg, closer to our shipping destination. This would buy us time. We updated the file, sent it off to the printer, and even had my brother pick up the printing and deliver it directly to the client. In the end? We met our deadline with a great looking product.

I made sure to pick up the phone and call my client – letting them know exactly what had happened and what the solution was. I apologized for our error and assured them that not only would we meet their deadline, but that all the costs involved with the reprint would, of course, be absorbed by myself.

Interestingly enough, it was many years later that I was sitting down with the client, and he brought up this incident. He told me that how I had handled it was the reason that, after all these years, I remained their exclusive design firm. I had proven that, when times get difficult, I was on their side. It also showed that sometimes there are costs, financial or other, that can pay off at unexpected times. Invest in your clients, and they will invest in you.

Now, of course, this example is a bit of an extreme case that works really well to illustrate my point. But, over the years I’ve learned, that there are always opportunities to add value to our work. While we are our own entity, once hired, I like to think that we are part of our client’s team. It is our responsibility to make our clients look great, and to make the entire process as smooth as possible. We’re also always honest and transparent – our advice isn’t going to be about what will bring us the biggest contract, but about what is best for the client.

Chris Thornley