Anyone on the sales side of the equation knows how hard it is to turn a single transaction into a repetitive one and a business contact into a customer. Screwing up and subsequently how you handle a screw up is one of the defining moments in establishing lasting supplier and customer relationships.
As much as we strive for perfection the fact is we are all going to mess up occasionally. When we do, we need to correct the immediate problem and figure out how to stop it from happening again. Thus the birth of processes and standard operating procedures… but then if you’re not careful, the rigidity of these quality standards can put you into a situation where you cannot be as responsive as you once were. Like many things, it’s all about striking balance.
Food for thought…
“It’s been my experience that most small business is better positioned to perform miracles then they are to run a solid day to day operation. A few years ago we beefed up our supplier base to get the best of both worlds and through a trial and error basis, established an improved network of suppliers. Suppliers that owned up when they made an error and worked closely with us to proactively manage each project consistently, in a quality manner and to specific timelines.”
“We’re a mature company of 22 years and through a process of learning everything the hard way, we’ve come to know what makes us a fit for a customer. We’re not order takers… so today we shy away from situations where the customers wants to micro manage from the directors chair and is looking for technicians, not thinkers. Our best fit is where we are dealing with the senior executive of a company who needs someone who can take the ball and run with it. That is our make up, we understand it. I believe it’s important to know what your value is and promote it to the appropriate market”.
“I would say we have an extremely high percentage of great customers… suppliers too. But we fired one this past week. After 2 months of going back and forth on a service failure they let process and procedure get in the way of making a fair and equitable decision to satisfy a legitimate customer complaint. We credited the order for our customer and after several attempts to mediate the problem, fired the supplier of 20 odd years. Circling back to the top, how well you handle a problem is a critical factor in building business relationships that last.”
Lee’s quote for the day
“Know your product and your market. Don’t get frustrated unnecessarily by trying to sell your Grade A Beef to Vegetarians. The fact that they don’t buy it doesn’t mean you’ve priced it wrong or there is something wrong with it, you’re simply talking to the wrong audience.”