Mistakes happen and they often occur when you can not afford them. I remember one painful mistake many years ago. I was managing a print shop and an important customer came in for their business card order. The business cards were printed, but needed to be cut down to size. I went to the drying rack and took them to the paper cutter. I placed the cards in the cutter for the first cut, pushed the button and *$%&. I watched the powerful cutting blade slice through the logo of the cards. I wanted to run out the door and hide. Apparently, someone had placed the top card upside down and I didn't check the stack of cards for position. It was clearly my mistake and the customer would not be leaving with their finished business cards.
I took the cards to the front counter and showed my mistake to the customer and admitted that it was my error. The customer was upset, but understanding. In this situation the only solution was to ask the customer what they wanted us to do. I remember vividly how the customer handled the situation. He stood there for a minute and I waited for him to tell me to quit my job and drive off a cliff. He was very understanding and asked if we would deliver the order when it was finished. I was both shocked and pleased the customer took it easy on me.
The Customer is Always Right and Often Forgiving
In my story, we admitted our mistake and were able to show the results of my error. We reprinted the cards and delivered them to the customer to their satisfaction. We didn't discount the business cards because the customer didn't ask us to. The customer didn't ask for anything special. They just asked us to deliver their business cards as soon as we could. Well, we reprinted the business cards and I personally delivered them. The customer will always be gracious when they understand a situation and will help you through a challenge when you are up front with them.
We simply performed what we needed to do to resolve the situation. I remember willing to do just about anything we could if the customer would have asked. The customer didn't ask and remained a key customer for years because we were human and continued to perform for them.
Keys to Eliminating Mistakes
Production mistakes happen when you are rushed and pushed to perform. Every manufacturing business should have a production schedule. The business will run smoothly when this production schedule is maintained. Not every job requires rush service and production performs better when it follows a regular schedule.
- Never ask the customer when they need their order. They will always want it sooner than they need it. Instead, tell them when it will be ready. If they need it sooner than your schedule allows, they will tell you. If they need a job sooner, move up the job to match their schedule. When you deliver their job sooner than expected, the customer will appreciate it more.
- Check and double check some areas of production. In the cutting area, I recommend the old adage of “measure twice, cut once". Develop a culture of double checks to eliminate errors.
- Automate your business with technology to eliminate mistakes. At Selling Magic we automate the selling process so you can do more in less time. Think of our system as you would a robot that does not make mistakes. Automation in production and selling will deliver a business advantage.
Steve Martinez is the author of Sales Impactivator a sales e-publication for success oriented individuals. Selling Magic teaches businesses how to automate and customize CRM solutions with the best practices of sales management for greater profits. http://www.sellingmagic.com