A Service Failure Strike

We often use this space to talk about our efforts to provide great service, but don’t think that we have never had a service failure–I wish that were the case! Nobody bats a thousand, and recently, we experienced a particularly painful steee-rike!

It happened with a long-time customer who ships time-sensitive, extremely fragile machinery from coast to coast. Like many businesses, this customer had become more price conscious over the past few years. As a result, we had been steadily losing a good percentage of their business based on price. After a recent shipment with one of our low-cost competitors showed up late and damaged, the customer called us. He even mentioned that he was inspired to call because of a Thought for the Weekend on trust.

We were thrilled that our customer called on us to save the day! We jumped into action only to learn that all of our trusted sources were already booked. Determined to solve our customer’s dilemma and get him a truck as soon as possible, we found a carrier close by who claimed to have air ride equipment matching the dimensions we needed. We were told the truck would be emptied soon and they could handle the load.  However, there was a delay in getting the truck emptied, and when it finally arrived at our customer’s dock, it was the wrong trailer type!

When I discussed the failure with my customer, he was completely deflated and expressed disgust with our entire industry. As I hung up the phone and wiped the egg off my face, I thought about the words my late father repeated many times: “Every company will experience service failures; it’s how we respond that will separate us from the competition“.

Rather then wallow in self-pity, I knew I had to rally the troops. Our entire team focused on solving the problem, and we found a carrier that could pick up the following morning and still get the product delivered on time. The truck was 150 miles away, and it would cost us a lot, but the company had fantastic references. We knew we’d found our match! Our focus was on providing the service we’d promised and repairing our relationship with our customer, not on the higher cost. Thankfully, the carrier came through and the product arrived on time and in good order. Yes, we lost some money on that shipment, but we honored our commitment and proved that the we can be trusted to get it right or, in this case, make it right! In the words of Dr. Phil, “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.”

Here are a few of my favorite quotes about making mistakes:

  • I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.~ Sir Humphrey Davy
  • I’ve made some bad (mistakes), but fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do, and continually improve upon your mistakes, you’re bound to get a good average.~ Walt Disney
  • Things could be worse. Suppose your errors were counted and published every day, like those of a baseball player. ~Author Unknown
  • Every strike brings me closer to the next home run. ~Babe Ruth

Go to bat this weekend,