Staff Infection???

We often find ourselves working well into the night, managing multiple projects for multiple clients.  As such, we try to identify and utilize vendors that share the same dedication.  Sometimes we are successful in that endeavor, and sometimes we are not, and sometimes…. well, both.  Here’s what I mean:

My wife Lisa does a number of training and marketing programs for her clients.  She usually uses Kinkos to print documents for her, namely because they have the bandwidth to handle jobs quickly, can take orders via the Internet.  And, their web site claims that they have 24 hour service, which has been a real benefit to her in the past.  She can burn the midnight oil, creating her documents, then go online with Kinkos, and rest assured that in the morning, it will be printed out and ready to go.

But last night, at 11PM, Lisa submitted some work online to Kinkos.  At 11:05, she received a call from them, saying that they closed at 11, and there was no one there to handle her order. 

Lisa said that the web site said they were open 24 hours. 

The Kinkos guy told her that there has been a sign on their door saying no third shift coverage for two weeks now. 

Lisa said, I am not at the store – I use you guys via the Internet, and your site says you are open 24 hours a day. 

Guy says, sorry, can’t help you. 

Lisa says, wait a minute, are you saying you can’t forward the order to another Kinkos that does have a third shift? 

Guy says, again, sorry, can’t help you. 

Lisa is now pretty miffed, because her client is expecting this work today.  She tells Kinko Guy that she is going to speak to the manager about this in the morning. 

Kinko Guy then says, well, maybe I can forward the job to another store. 

Lisa says, hey, you just said you couldn’t do that!  Now, after I threaten to speak to the manager, you all of a sudden can do this???

Kinko Guy gets all insulted and yells, hey lady, I just work here, okay?  I’ve been here eight hours and it’s time for me to go home!  I was just trying to give you a courtesy call, okay?

Lisa says, some courtesy!  First you tell me you can’t do anything, then you tell me you can, and now I’m supposed to feel sorry for you because you worked an eight-hour shift?  Hey, I am the customer here, and I have been working for 12 hours on a Sunday to get something done for my client, and now I have to be jerked around by Kinkos, whose web site says open 24 hours, but whose employee says sorry, we’re closed?  No, I will be talking to the manager in the morning!

And she hung up, good and mad.

We went to bed, expecting to have to fight with a Kinkos manager in the morning.  But, morning came, and there was an email from Kinkos, telling Lisa that her documents were ready to be picked up!  A miracle?  Or just someone deciding to do their job?  Whatever, the bottom line is, Lisa got the documents she needed, but not without having to pull some teeth to get it done.

The lesson in all this?  There are several:

  1. If you do business over the Internet, make certain that your web site is in sync with your bricks-n-mortar operations.  If someone is doing business with you on the web, then they can’t see the sign posted on your shop window… UNLESS you put that same sign on your web site!
  2. When you have to tell a customer that your shop can not deliver on a promise that your web site made, don’t cop an attitude when the customer gets angry.  The problem is with your business, not the customer!  You set false expectations, you pulled the carpet out from under the customer’s feet!  Of course the customer is angry, so take the hit!  Apologize for the inconvenience, and offer something – a discount, a freebie, anything! – to try to compensate for the mixed message.
  3. If there is a way to correct the problem, then take the initiative to just do it.  Don’t wait to for the customer to suggest a solution, or worse yet, to threaten to go to your boss.  If you can fix the problem, or even think you can fix the problem, then do so.  If you can not, then refer back to point #2, and take the hit.  The customer will be angry, and rightly so.
  4. Finally, if there is a customer problem, and you are able to fix that problem, take the opportunity to apologize for the confusion / inconvenience, and maybe knock a buck or two off the price, just as a way of saying we’re sorry.  It won’t cost your business that much, and a sincere gesture goes a long way in the customer’s book.

   — Chuck Dennis

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