In a buyer’s market, anything other than superb customer service is unacceptable.

That means when a customer calls a prespective supplier—be it a clothing store or an accounting firm—they not only should be treated like they’re valued, but should be able to do a bit of negotiating in the process.

I’ve been shopping around for various wedding vendors and I’m flabbergasted by anyone who isn’t willing to bend over backward for someone who’s planning to dish out tons of cash, especially in today’s economy.

I traveled to Virginia over the weekend to pick out a bridesmaid’s dress for my best friend’s wedding. She found the style she liked, but not the color. The closest branch with that color was a 90-minute drive away. Given the fact that there are five bridesmaids, you’d think the otherwise helpful sales associate who likely works on commission would offer to have the dress sent to her store—if not drive to the other one herself to get it.

No such offer came about. So the five of us plan to purchase our euro red dresses in five separate branches where she doesn’t work.

When I called a catering hall inquiring whether I could attend an upcoming event to taste their food and check out their DJ for my own wedding, the manager pretty much gave me a set of rules I had to abide by, at which point I hung up the phone.

If anyone tells us “can’t,” we’ve decided to walk away. There are millions of other restaurants that want our business.

Sure enough, the next number I dialed yielded us an appointment for wedding crashing on Valentine’s Day.

Most accountants tell me their phones are still ringing, but some say it seems clients are waiting longer because they don’t want to pay the government yet or are considering cheaper do-it-yourself options. Consumers in general are frightful of spending money even if they have it to spend.

Intuit says the ProAdvisors who list their rates on the findaproadvisor.com Web site receive a lot more inquiries than those who don’t.

Why? Because the small business owners who are searching for help don’t feel comfortable not knowing how much they’re going to have to pay.

In Q4, NetSuite, which typically requires customers to sign annual contracts for their financial software, saw a bulk of its customers requesting quarterly or even monthly contracts instead, according to CEO Zach Nelson.

NetSuite appeased them because it knew that if it cut those customers a discount in services, they’d continue to pay recurring license revenue for years to come.

Accountants may take for granted that the clients they had in the past aren’t going to take their shoeboxes and run.

Seller beware.

While the only certainties in life are death and taxes, the buyers in today’s market have infinite options of where to get those taxes done and other companies are dying for their business.

 

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