Easier to talk about customer service than to do it…

Occasionally, I pass along when an organization or individual fails to live up to what a customer has a right to reasonably expect in terms of the delivery of service.

This post is about someone who did not fulfill what was promised to a customer, and failed miserably to create the type of customer experience that I write and talk about.

Unfortunately, the person who screwed it up…was me.

About Christmas time, our company received an order for a personalized “Create Distinction” book and custom video on the topic of creating clarity in the marketplace.  We accepted the order…we billed the credit card…and then failed to deliver as promised.

There’s no excuse…I got so busy taking care of our big clients that I didn’t block the time required to take care of this single customer.  We weren’t too busy to process the payment — but, I didn’t discipline myself to get the video produced.

Where do we stand now? I’ve sent the video — both the link for a streaming version and on a flash drive — to our customer.  I’ve signed a book for him, as well, to complete our product commitment,  In addition, I’ve apologized via both email and a handwritten letter.  And, naturally, I wrote a check to refund his purchase in full.

In addition, I’ve committed to providing him a first edition copy of my next book — to be released this summer.  We will also be launching a comprehensive virtual training platform very shortly, and he will have a three month membership with our compliments.

While I’m certain that he would have rather had his order completed on time as promised, my hope is that our delivery of almost triple the value of his order and total refund of his purchase can display my sincere apology.  I know that, “Customers don’t want you to make it right — they want you to get it right,” as I often say.  However, I didn’t get it right — so I want to do what I can to make it right to a customer who put his trust in me.

Why am I sharing this?  Well, it’s not easy for me to do, that’s for certain — however, there are two critical lessons that I’ve learned and that I want to share.

First, it’s easy to chase the big clients and fail to prioritize your efforts properly.  A deal is a deal — and my commitment to one customer should be exactly the same as my commitment to big clients once a promise is made.  Let’s face it, once you make a promise, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s for $90 or $90,000.  If you’ve made a commitment to deliver, then get it done.

Second, it’s easier to talk about customer service than it is to deliver customer service.  While this has never happened before in three decades of business — and, I intend that it will never happen again — I realize that once is one time too many.

I don’t have any right to criticize others when they don’t deliver, and then keep it a secret when I come up short in my own performance.


The number one reason that the pace of change is slow…

Do you believe the pace of change is slow?

You read that question right: Would you consider the speed at which change occurs in your industry to be “slow?”

  • You’d better.

Because here’s the problem…TODAY is as slow as you’re going to see it for the rest of your career.

My favorite blogger, Bob Lefsetz, quoted Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt in a recent post…and I was intrigued to learn more.  In a presentation in October 2010, Schmidt told an audience at Lake Tahoe that, “There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing. People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.”

In other words, the number one reason that the pace of change is slow…is that change is happening as slowly TODAY as it will for the remainder of our lives.

As my buddy, Randy Pennington, reminds us in his terrific book, “Make Change Work,” the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Here’s my strong suggestion:  Most organizations and professionals fail to deal with the revolutionary pace of change because they aren’t certain of what and who they are.

They’ve failed to create distinction — in part, because:

  1. they don’t have Clarity about what they stand for — and won’t stand for;
  2. because they aren’t Creative in their approach to serving customers and engaging colleagues;
  3. they don’t Communicate in a compelling narrative;
  4. and, they fail to develop a Customer Experience Focus.

If you don’t have these Cornerstones in place…the increased pace of change may only speed your demise.

Think of that phrase again:  The pace of change TODAY…is as SLOW as it will be for the rest of your life.

You’d better get started NOW to create distinction.

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