I recently emailed a supplier of a product I am interested in, mentioning that they were recommended by a mutual friend, and providing some very clear details of what I was interested in. I asked a couple of questions about how best to supply artwork and also asked for a quotes for various order quantities. While it contained a few details, my email wasn't overly long, and it expressed some positivity about the prospect of doing business with said supplier.
This is the reply I received:
"Please phone me next tuesday"
Now. Perhaps I am naive about how the industry works and this response is perfectly reasonable; par for the course, even. Perhaps, were I to call on Tuesday, I would be given another set of instructions leading me to a hidden locked box or providing me with a puzzle to solve. Perhaps after a treasure hunt style chain of events I would even be allowed to order the product I am interested in, having proved myself worthy to my secretive supplier.
Or perhaps this is fact the worst customer service I've encountered in a long time. It's impersonal on so many levels. Right from the get-go.
My first response was to laugh incredulously. Really? Then I hit reply and typed, "Nevermind, I'll find someone else." Hit Send.
The lesson to be learned is that if you're running a business and someone takes the time to enquire about your services, how you reply communicates an awful lot about how you might conduct yourself later on in the process. It sets a precident for the level of service a customer should expect. It reassures the customer that they've made the right choice in coming to you, and that you appreciate the enquiry. It might just give you the advantage if they've emailed other suppliers and recived poor responses... like the one above.