A ravine is much deeper than a crack……
and I just had a “ravine” experience……I fell…….and this is how it happened:
Two vendors involved in a very expensive finished product, both accuse the other of causing the problem of “totally unacceptable” by the client …… Guess what…the customer is inconvenienced (delayed over 6 weeks, and facing serious cost overruns). And the added side effect is broken relationships with two vendors I care about, because…..by calling attention to a problem, I’ve become “the bad guy” in this scenario. Yes, the problem is being fixed (I think),……but oooh soooooo slowly:-), and both vendors of course swear they are doing a fab job of rectifying the problem (and o lucky me!) …… yet the negative effects from this whole “falling in the ravine” situation will have far reaching future implications, and I am currently a VERY unhappy customer.
Yes, s**t happens, and it is unfortunate.
Earlier this year it happened to a small business I mentor. However, we handled it very differently from my recent experience. I say ‘we’ but actually my entrepreneur ‘Ken’ ended up handling it very well. He was one of two subcontractors accused of having created a problem that needed fixing immediately. A ripped water tank liner was compromised by the plumber who had installed the safety valve; he likely failed to remove his work boots (as required when working inside a tank liner), or perhaps he dropped a tool. Ken knew he had not caused the problem leak (but he knew it was his responsibility), and of course the plumbing sub contractor denied it……so what now……..the customer was about to fall into that deep ravine, maybe even a canyon. A water leak is no joke!
The correct solution here was to fix the problem for the customer, no matter what. And fast, and not get involved in the blame game. Yes, it cost Ken $$$$. Parts had to be over-nighted from the supplier (it was me that insisted it be fixed fast and not wait the mandatory 3 weeks+ for a new liner), in fact it ate most of the profit on the job. But the end result was that the problem was fixed quickly (not even a week lost); the customer was happy, and impressed with Ken….. Leaving the image of ‘problem solver’ with the customer and the site contractor is paying-off for future work. Five new jobs.
What Ken says he learned from this:
- 1. Fast resolution of the customers problem really pays off, even if at first your own bottom line takes a hit. Happy customers and satisfied commercial contractors send new business. Fast is key, as the longer it drags on the more the problem becomes magnified and is remembered. Ken has five new job contracts already from that contractor.
- 2. Anticipate that others may cause damage, check your own work carefully when complete, don’t forget job approval sign-off prior to leaving, and don’t forget the ‘no longer responsible for damage’ disclaimer.
- 3. Commercial job site contractors will force the “little guy” to take the blame and responsibility whenever possible when problems occur, so have the person you answer to, the contractor and/or customer, sign off promptly with complete satisfaction!
- 4. Check all components produced or fabricated by others before starting a job. Often defects can show up before you even get started.
What else can be done when a customer falls through the cracks? What else can we learn from it? Do you have any related links to share? Comment below please, and email is also a great way of reaching me.