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A Gallery’s Stroke Of Blame Lost A Customer

Case Study:
When a customer has an immediate need, they turn to businesses who can help them resolve their problem. A customer will often patronize an unknown business if there’s a specific reason like: close location, convenience, referral, or the need for immediate service.

When one of these situations arises, it’s always a unique opportunity to gain new business.

Here’s one opportunity that did not go so well.

A Gallery Blames Its Customer
An artist planned to enter a local art show and needed their painting matted and framed. Since the framing was an immediate need, the artist chose a nearby gallery for convenience.

The sales associate at the gallery helped the artist chose a matboard and frame that best matched their painting. Once those decisions were made, the artist asked the sales associate to jot down the measurements they would need to cut the matboard. The artist explained the artwork needed some final touches and leaving the artwork for matting was not an option.

This is not an uncommon practice, since most vendors are flexible when it comes to the artist leaving the original artwork. In addition, the frame chosen was simple to assemble, and the artist planned to do the labor themselves instead of the gallery. While the sales associate expressed disappointment that the picture would not be left, the artist felt the gallery had the dimensions they needed, and leaving the artwork was not a necessity.

A few days later the artist returned to pay and pick up the matboard and frame to assembly at home. Upon assembling the picture, the artist quickly discovered that the matboard was cut incorrectly.

Returning to the gallery, the artist spoke to the sales associate who took the original order. The gallery’s inventory was checked for the same color matboard which was unavailable. Therefore, cutting a new matboard within the time frame it was needed wasn’t possible. The artist’s fee was returned, but not before the sales associate made it clear to the artist they should have left the original artwork. Adding the measurements would have been accurate.

While the artist was a bit stunned by the blame, the artwork was taken to a commercial store where a new matboard was cut for the artist on the spot.

The artist never returned to the gallery and now takes all their artwork to the commercial store. After using this new vendor several times, the measurements are always accurate—even when the artwork is not left for matting and framing.

Small Business Etiquette
Never blame a customer for a business’s error. The customer is still always right. Word of mouth can travel and the customer will never give a business owner a second chance if a customer feels the blame was put on them. It’s particularly important, if that business’s specialty is why the customer chose to patronized that business in the first place.

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