I was recently crusing the Inc.com website when I ran across an interesting article that I thought was worth sharing. The article — The $4 Million Complaint Call — was written by Ron Burley, founder of Broadcast Software International, a technology startup. Ron’s company specializes in the development of digital audio and automation software for broadcast radio stations. Four years after founding his company, he had grown it to 16 employees with a customer base spread across 40 countries around the globe. However, Broadcast Software was at a crossroads in its life — Ron could no longer afford to fund the company’s growth by himself, and it desperately needed an infusion of outside capital. Unfortunately, investment in technology companies had dried up, and there was no outside capital to be found anywhere. If something didn’t change, and soon, the company would likely collapse.
Early one morning — at 2am, to be exact — Ron received a call at home from a customer by the name of Bob, a radio engineer and owner of a tiny radio station in Southern Ilinois. Because Ron had personally written much of the software sold by his company, he was the tech service rep of last resort. If no one else in the company could help a customer with his problems, then the buck stopped with Ron. Thus the 2am phone call.
Instead of putting off the customer and his problems, Ron decided to walk him through the process of configuring start-up options for Microsoft Windows. Two hours later — at 4am — he had a happy customer at that tiny radio station in Southern Illinois, and Ron could go back to bed.
What happened next is what makes this story particularly interesting.
According to Ron, "Almost six months to the day after I’d hung up the phone with Bob, I received another call. The chief of engineering of a major media company informed me the company had decided to standardize on our software across its entire chain of more than 300 radio stations. It would be the biggest order in our history–more than $4 million–and would easily provide the capital we’d been needing."
As it turned out, that small radio station in Southern Illinois was acquired by a much larger media conglomerate, and Bob was hired on by the media conglomerate as a consulting engineer. When his new employer was looking for new software for its chain of radio stations, Bob recommended the product sold by Ron’s company — Broadcast Software. The rest, as they say, is history. Broadcast Software got the infusion of cash it needed to survive and grow.
And the moral of the story?
Says Ron Burley, "Every customer needs to be treated with respect, and no customer should be left dissatisfied. I’m not saying that every customer call is crucially important. But some of them certainly are – and you never know which one might be your ‘Bob.’"