How Do You Make Things Right When They Go Wrong?
Make-goods are a familiar and vexing reality for any business that sells something (i.e. everyone). For print providers, waste, spoilage and over/unders are expected in production and they are a cost of doing business. Re-dos are painful and frustrating, and a normal part of the business too.
Consider a few factors that can drive a print project off the rails: miscommunication between a sales rep or CSR and a customer; errors in write-ups; changes in the project specs that aren’t passed on; proofing misses; and production errors.
We can get mad or we can measure the re-do rate, track the causes, and get serious about processes and prevention so that results improve. The best outcome? Everyone feels better - your team and your customers.
Righting wrongs with deliverables can be costly in themselves; even more so when relationships and professional credibility are put at risk and pay the price.
At our recent network convention, we invited Stephen M. R. Covey to talk to us about trust. It is at once a massive and simple concept. The greater the trust, the better the results - personally and professionally. Sounds easy, yet some of the kindest, well-intentioned among us struggle with a key to trust-building found in two small and powerful words: “I’m sorry.”
One of the behaviors Covey outlines in The Speed of Trust that builds and restores relationship trust is to “right wrongs.” Covey says that “it is more than simply apologizing; it’s also making restitution. It’s doing what you can to correct the mistake ... and then a little more.”
It was my philosophy as a business owner to first make it right - whatever it took - even when the fault belonged somewhere else. Often, we’d sit down with our customer and show them that we had a very deliberate way of dealing with errors (non-conformances) and making sure it didn’t happen again (root causes and preventive action). We were also aware that the client was often accountable to someone else who might be applying pressure. (“Do you know what you are doing?” “Find someone else to do our work!”)
We’d go above and beyond to take away the pain of the mishap with overnight shipping, credits, speaking to the customer’s customer and more. These “righting wrongs” - accepting responsibility and showing how seriously we addressed errors - often turned a disappointed client (and their boss) into a raving fan.
Every challenge on a project is an opportunity to cement a relationship if handled in an honest and transparent fashion. It sets the tone for your team members as well. Covey stresses the importance to resist the temptation to “spin,” cover up or justify mistakes. They are credibility- and trust-busters, doing far more harm than the original error.
When all is said and done, people deal with people ... especially people they trust.
How do you go about righting wrongs in your organization? Drop me a note at email@example.com.
Kevin Cushing leads the Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, KKP, Speedy Printing and Zippy Prints brands as president of Alliance Franchise Brands' Marketing and Print Division.
Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign and Graphics Operations LLC, is a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in North America and the United Kingdom. The Marketing and Print Division is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. Franchise owners in this division offer one-stop marketing and print communications services. Its Sign and Graphics Division, headquartered in Middle River, Maryland, includes Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign, graphics and visual communications providers.
Cushing has owned and operated award-winning franchise locations, was inducted into Epicomm's Soderstrom Society, and was named Print CEO of the Year in 2011 when he served as CEO of AlphaGraphics Inc.