I follow the writings of marketing whiz Chris Brogan on a regular basis. Chris calls one phase of his business "Human Business Works", a title which resonates greatly with the way we think at Liberty Packaging. It's about doing what we can to help the customer and his or her business thrive. There are many like-minded folks in the business world whom we're delighted to count as colleagues and customers - they, too, feel the responsibility.
Chris Brogan's recent post called "Technical Difficulties are Your Responsibility" caused me to examine how I respond when things go awry. In a perfect world, everyone completes their work on time, home renovations take exactly the amount of time and cash allotted, machines don't break down, traffic doesn't clog the only road to the beach on Friday afternoon, and ice cream doesn't melt.
Back to reality: when something goes wrong and it affects my customer, I need to own it (even if it's not my error), apologize for the inconvenience, then take corrective action. This plan may feel difficult when you're face to face with an unhappy customer, but I find it works 99% of the time. (When I say it "works", I mean you've provided a solution and the client is satisfied.) My view as both customer and service provider in many different scenarios, from waitstaff to wedding singer, allows that most people just want you to acknowledge their inconvenience, AND they want evidence that you care enough to make an effort to fix it.
Here is a bit of Brogan's take on the subject: "In the restaurant business, I was taught The Three A’s: acknowledge, apologize, act. Acknowledge that something happened that shouldn’t have happened. Apologize (without making excuses). Act on the problem so that you can hopefully ensure no repeats."
Our team (pictured above), which cares greatly about customer satisfaction, includes (left to right) Steve Economos, Keith Donaldson, John Murphy, yours truly, and Joe Spitz.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~Mahatma Ghandi