So today I had to apologize to a customer for a late shipment of his order. I know everyone realizes things get delayed some times. Fortunately, it is a rare occasion. But, this is by far one of my least favorite things to have to do because there just is no good excuse.
I mean seriously, do any of us really care why the order is late? No. We order it, pay for it and have the right to expect that it will come when ordered. So, when it’s late we’re upset. And we have the right to be.
So as a vendor, I really don’t know what to say. “Sorry,” is insufficient and I doubt if the customer cares why it was late. Sure you can offer them credit for future purchases, but most won’t order again. And can you blame them? Who wants to deal with bad service? And this is why quality systems should all include a proper failure analysis investigation of any system break down.
I have been around the block enough to know that people always balk at this. Accidents happen. Why point fingers. Etc. Etc. Etc. But the why is listed above. Customers want and deserve good service. Errors left uncorrected will continue.
And yes I know that no one wants to be signaled out as the cause of a problem or have their mistakes highlighted. Believe me I have heard the “its not my fault because…” line so many times it makes my head spin. People are quicker to defend than correct.
But failure analysis isn’t about blame, it’s about cause. If a person in the chain made the wrong decision or did the wrong thing… why? Did they not know the right thing? Was it a careless error? Were they unable to do the right thing because of some obstacle?
You won’t fix what you pretend isn’t broken. So when something goes wrong stand up and admit the error, take your lumps and learn why. Then do your best not to repeat.
So, to the customer who shall remain nameless, should you be reading this, know that I am truly sorry for the service you received. We have already done our internal failure analysis and hopefully no one else will suffer from the same snafu.