I watched most of this series of the Apprentice – and I like Sir Alan Sugar’s irascible approach; it’s definitely good TV. I always wonder about the candidates though, they seem to be lacking in one area – and one that I think is critical – customer service.

Yes, they go for the sales – but at the expense of good quality and an interest in the long term customer relationship. I was surprised that cutting corners, serving up sub-standard food, chocolate that tasted bad and selling cheap and cheerful, but quality-free, items seemed to be the order of the day throughout.

If I wrote websites that way, I would never get a referral or recommendation – and certainly no testimonials.

Sales is a process of communication and relationship management – a quick sale is a one-off. People won’t buy again if they think you’ve flogged them sub-standard goods.

The statistics have proven again and again that it costs far less to keep an existing customer than it does to find a new one – so the profit margins in one-off sales will need to be high to compensate for all that effort.

I know it’s a TV programme and it IS a one-off – but if I’d been on the receiving end of that approach I would have been less than happy.

I’d rather keep the customers I’ve got and let them bring me their associates, suppliers and their customers because they know they get good quality and good service, than keep finding new customers again and again.
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