Paul Greenland, president of Aetna Building Maintenance in Columbus, Ohio, believes his biggest mistake was letting his ego get in the way of servicing a frustrating customer.

“The customer kept changing his expectation/specifications and that made it difficult to manage to an end result,” he explains. “We were never on the same page about the price/quality ratio.”

But, instead of negotiating patiently, with proper service in mind, he let his ego take over — and it drove the account right into the hands of a competitor. The customer got fed up and switched contractors.

“I forgot that the customer isn’t always right, but they are still the customer,” he recalls. “After a month of reflection and self-evaluation, I went back and apologized for letting my ego get in the way of servicing the account and not listening to the customers needs. The new company’s service wasn’t so great.In fact, it was terrible compared to us, and the customer was so impressed that I apologized, he gave us the account back.”

Now, Greenland checks his ego at the door, and his company has much higher account retention than before.

“My job is to always be the customer’s advocate — sometimes even against my own company,” he says.

The above article appeared in and authored by Stacie H. Whitacre and Dan Weltin.

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