Is the first contact like a date?
An Interview with Tommy Bjørbæk, founder of Viking Consulting and our lead consultant. Tommy has earlier in discussions compared the first contact with a potential customer as a date. Now he has the chance to take his words to the paper and clarify for his point of view. Is it a madman’s tale or is there something to gain from the comparison? Experience for yourself and join the discussion to test this belief.
#What does good customer service mean to you?
“Good customer service to me is when the supplier keeps focusing on the customers’ needs instead of focusing on what he/she/they can supply. It is also when a supplier can say “Yes this is my fault, and here is what we will do to fix it” – Admitting mistakes is for me the number one rule when building a strong relationship with a customer – Hmmm well maybe number two after not making the mistake in the first place. My other number one rule is to go that extra mile. I might have been doing a 13-hour workday, my lead developer is tired at home, but when a customer is struggling, then my 13 hours might become 17 and the tired developer will be boosted on RedBull and coffee because I know that all the pain and problems will be turned into love if the customer feels we are there with him/her and feeling their pain with them. Gaining the trust and love from our customers is one of my most important tasks, in life we don’t love people by their perfections but from how they handle the mistakes – and I believe this to be the same in business. So a supplier/customer relationship is pretty much like a love relationship, it starts the same way as well, with the first date. :-)”
#Why do you compare the first contact as it was the first date?
“Have you ever had a bad relationship? How did this bad relationship start?
I’m guessing that it started with the first contact, maybe a date. You liked the person and with the time you fell in love, some people fall in love fast and others need more time. But then at some point it turned bad, the relationship didn’t work out and I’m assuming you left that relationship (some might still be in it) – But the thing is, that I’m guessing that 99% of all bad relationships could have been avoided at the first date if people were honest about who they are and what is important to them.
Same goes for the first contact between 2 companies, you start out getting to know each other and one is eager to impress and colour the perfect picture of yourself as a partner – But just like in love life, this is where things can go wrong. What happens if you initially said that you always perform and you can keep going until both parties are satisfied – But then comes the time that you are not able to live up to those expectations or promises. It is ALWAYS better to under-promise and over-deliver and never a good thing to over-promise and under-deliver. One thing builds trust and the builder builds mistrust – And I’m a firm believer in genuine trust is the most important thing in both business and love relationships.”
#How does trust work in a relationship?
“I trust people from the start, I believe in the good in people. Some might call me naive like that, but in a fluctural world that e-commerce is, it would be near impossible to build up a broad network of trust, if everyone had to prove they could trust each other every time you get a new contact. With that being said, I only work with people I like, going back to the date and love relationship – I couldn’t be in a relationship with someone I didn’t like and I feel the same way with the people I work with. So, a small detour here, but I trust people I like and I stop trusting them if I stop liking them, but I can still have people that I like but I don’t trust, but at least I will have a reason for it since I started by trusting them.
People can make mistakes, we make mistakes as well – We can develop something and along the way, we make a mistake in the code or a more general mistake in the design, but if we pick up to that mistake, correct it and don’t try to push the responsibility away from our company or even myself as a person, then that mistake will not cause mistrust, actually in some cases it might build even more trust.
Maintaining a good relationship is not always saying yes – The funny thing about being honest is that sometimes it’s about being honest to yourself. When developers say to a client “I’ll have this done by the end of the week” and they don’t make it, it’s not that they were not to be trusted, many times they had every intention of being done by the end of the week and believed themself that they would make it – But this is where that person was not honest towards himself, and by that the customer gets a feeling that he cannot trust his supplier – Be honest towards yourself, then it will be easier, to be honest towards your client. A trustful relationship is a beneficial relationship.”
#When do you know if a relationship is beneficial?
“Well let’s turn it around – A relationship is not beneficial when there is mistrust, it causes the entire relationship to spiral out of control. The client has mistrust in the supplier, to try to counter this, the supplier will promise even better things, better prices or faster delivery – Which then turns out to be Over-Promise and Under-delivered – Not beneficial for any of the parties.
A relationship is beneficial when the client is aware of the suppliers’ capabilities and the supplier is aware of the clients’ needs – Sometime they won’t match up 100%, but this is where external networks come in, because if the supplier is aware that he can only deliver 80% of the task, but he knows of another company which can deliver the remaining 20% – Then this is where things start to evolve into something better than just a supplier/client relationship. This last part I’m not sure if I can compare to a love relationship, without going into something not suited for this interview.
Where does one draw the line, when is it helping a friend (Who might have started as a client) and when is its delivery of a service? For me, it can at times be hard to draw that line, and maybe I don’t wanna draw that line. I believe I can tell when I’m being taken advantage of, and then the trust starts to fall, with the trust going down, then the relationship is starting to see an end.
When/if you want to get out of a relationship – And again, love or business, doesn’t matter – End it with honour and in the best possible way, you never know who this person knows, and it doesn’t matter if the other person was the wrong one, what matters is that this person will not go out and say “I was a pain to work/be with, I was the wrong one” every person will tell and explain based on their point of view, so try to make that point of view the best possible ALSO when ending the relationship.
But back to the line – What does one remember the most, do they remember the experience they had when someone delivered on time and as it should be, absolutely. But one thing they remember, even more, is when someone out of the blue stepped in and reached out to give a hand when needed – As a true friend… We pride ourselves in helping our friends – that is how we see all our clients and contacts – as friends.”
“We as navigators needs stars to bring us to a safe haven, nevertheless, the birth of the stars are needed“ – Team Viking Consulting
Our lead consultant
Tommy has 23 years of experience in e-commerce and 6 years of in-depth experience with 3PL and WMS. Tommy knows most WMS systems and e-commerce systems in and out and knows how to plan intelligent ways to integrate and automate processes between them.
He holds a strong entrepreneurial mindset and has an impressive professional network within many industries.
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Who we are
We are Viking Consulting. The specialists within the fields of 3rd party integration and eCommerce solutions. With 20+ years of experience in e-Commerce, 15+ years of experience in development and integration, and 5+ years as a 3PL provider. We are the only contact needed for integration, development and consulting. Our growing business is hungry for more experiences.
The company is based in Scandinavia and the team extends to even embracing more countries. We serve companies worldwide. Our foundation is based on the values: Be Brave, Be Prepared, Be A Good Merchant, and, Keep The Camp In Order. Therefore we see ourselves as business partners and friends of the clients, employees, companies, networks and the whole industry.