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On Sunday afternoon, after a couple of weeks of working nearly 60 hours due to severe understaffing, I made a small mistake with potentially major consequences for a large portion of our customers.  I realized the error immediately, contacted the owner, and we figured out how to correct it.  Still, the mistake had been obvious to many (I'd already been getting emails and inquiring phone calls in the time it took to handle), and I therefore had to email everyone to apologize for the situation, and explain that it had been corrected.  I felt terrible and more than a little embarrassed.  On a Sunday night, no less.

(I'm also eternally grateful to zarfmouse for speeding up my process of contacting everyone by HOURS, via his stellar data munging skills.)

While glad that such a situation was taken care of as quickly as possible, I still woke up this morning feeling more than a bit stressed ... and nervous.  Even with having handled things as efficiently and proactively as we did, it was still a mistake that could have upset people (and several of those who contacted me yesterday initially were).  So I sat down to check my email a few minutes ago, bracing myself - as I noticed by the subject lines that I'd already received a couple of dozen responses overnight.

And, to a one, they were all thanking me for our attention to detail, correcting of the situation, and care in following up.

I'm kind of overcome.

I suppose it just serves to remind me of the terrible level of customer service that everyone is used to receiving from most places.  Where you don't really trust the companies you do business with, don't feel confident that they have your interests at heart, and don't feel as if they're really watching out for you.  It's stunning to me the way most companies treat their customers, in a way that's so uncaring, indifferent and detached.  So that when you DO explain to someone that a mistake has happened, when you DO take responsibility for it, and speak to them like they're a real person ... they're so unused to that approach that they're entirely grateful and appreciative.  (I was equally touched by the responses that said "No problem.  I knew you'd take care of it.")

I think of things like bounced check fees, or someone having barely missed a deadline for payment, or any number of gray areas where maybe you'll end up getting some relief but only after a lot of stress and maybe some yelling.  And it doesn't have to be that way!  Treat your customers like people - with understanding, patience, and consideration - and they'll appreciate that, and do the same with you.

Last night I felt chagrined and terrible.  This morning I feel grateful and blessed.

Not bad at all.

(Crossposted from Facebook.)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
it says some pretty nice things about your clientele, too!

i'm glad that they appreciate you.
Feb. 11th, 2013 12:32 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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