By Tim Van Milligan

I got a message from a customer this morning. He was fighting with the US Postal Service because they were taking a record amount of time delivering a Priority Mail package to him. Thanks to the delivery confirmation, we were able to track it every time the postal service scanned it. It went coast to coast twice before it got delivered to him.

He took his complaint to the post office, and this was the canned response that they sent back to him:

Customer reports of delayed mail are a great concern. We are making every conceivable effort to identify and correct as many causes of the delays as possible.  We know, for example, that sorting errors can cause delays. Some of these mistakes are due to machine malfunctions, while others may happen as a result of human errors. Supervisory personnel have been instructed to periodically spot-check sorted mail before dispatch so errors can be caught before they happen.

Now I can understand that a package can get lost every once and a while. Mistakes will happen. But the solution to make sure it doesn’t happen again is just plain dumb. How is a supervisor going to inspect all the mail that comes through his facility?

Say it is a small town of 10,000 people, and each person gets three pieces of mail per day. That is 30,000 pieces of mail. I don’t think a supervisor could spot check a 1,000 pieces of mail per day.

I don’t want to pick on the Post Office, so I’ll pick on my own company that sells model rockets. This past month was pretty busy for us, and we had a few customer orders get mixed up. You know what, it happens.

I asked my staff for suggestions on how we could prevent it from occurring again in the future. The basic response I got was that we needed to be more cognizant of what we were doing.

Isn’t that the same thing that the post office said that they were going to do? “Just pay more attention to what you’re doing.”

How would you like to be a customer and get that answer? Would you be willing to trust the business to follow through and get your order right the next time around? Of course not.

What is the solution then? The solution is to develop a procedure, with checks and balances that will spot problems before they happen. A procedure is a set of written instructions that lay out what has to happen, and in what order.

Entrepreneurs hate procedures. In fact, most of them started their own business because of the stifling restrictions of procedures that they felt when they worked for someone else.

But here is the truth. You need procedures to handle the mundane things in your business to make sure that everything is handled consistently. Consistency is at the core of quality customer service. It is the one trait you have to establish in order to build up your brand and to make money online, or in the brick-and-mortar world.

More importantly, the procedure must be written down. Why? Because personnel change from year to year. People go on vacation and others have to fill in. If you don’t write them down, then you as the owner are going to have to do the job forever.

In the biblical book of Habakkuk, we find this command from God:

Then the LORD replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.”
Habakkuk 2:2

We talked about this passage before. But it applies to making money a lot of different ways, and I wanted to make you aware of this.

Question of the day: What do you do in your business to make sure the delivery of goods and services to your customer is consistent?

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  • http://www.bayarearoofingca.com David Escalante

    Systems need to be in place to get the job done right consistently.

    David Escalante
    Bay Area Roofing San Francisco CA

  • http://www.directsellingadvice.com Mark

    Our culture of ‘passing the buck’ offers an easy opportunity to impress and correct issues by taking responsibility. The government seems to forget that because they have ‘secure’ jobs.

    Mark
    Direct Selling Advice, Tips, Skills & Techniques

  • http://www.babysittingworld.com Lisa McLellan

    This reminded me of one time when I sent a roll of film to be developed and I never got the pictures. I called the company and they confirmed that they had received the film, processed it, and mailed it back to me. All they could do was send me a new roll of film. Four years later I received the pictures in the mail!!!!! The envelope was very dirty. It looked like it had been jammed in something or fallen behind something and stuck for a few years. Maybe an issue was corrected at the post office and that’s how they were found! LOL

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

  • http://www.stopthesun.com/blog Trisha Chambers

    Bible tablets….the post-it note of that time!

  • http://www.stevechambers.com Steve Chambers

    Tim:

    The secret to growing and sustaining a business is systematization. Entrepreneurs need to create systems and processes for every aspect of their business.

    The Post Office is a great example of how to do things wrong.

    Steve Chambers
    Body Language Expert

  • http://www.kettlbellolympia.com Dr. Wendy Schauer, D.C., R.K.C.

    We have a procedure manual at our office that I personally wrote. Any new employee that I hire immediately knows how to do every part of their job from this manual. Every time something new comes up that we’ve never encountered before I add it to the manual. It is one of the most valuable tools in my office.

    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy
    http://www.kettlebellolympia.com

  • http://www.childrenswealth.com Dale Bell

    Policy and proceedurs take a lot of time and effort. I found that it is necessary to keep up dating them due to the fast pace that things change.

  • http://www.yourchanceforromance.com Sonya Lenzo

    We all have set up procedures but we work with HUMANS so sometimes mistakes are made. THIS is the chance to really make a customer for life. Most customers understand that a mistake can happen, but just like you were infuriated by that stupid canned response, it is HOW you respond that separates the professionals from the wannabes. If someone says they did not get a package, I resend it. If they say something arrived broken, I ask them to return it and I will repairreplace and return at no cost to them. I am making customers for life here. If affiliates wont do the same, I wont work with them.
    An unhappy customer made happy is your best free advertising.
    Sonya M Lenzo
    http://www.yourchanceforromance.com

  • http://robertkaufer.com Robert Kaufer

    Automation and repetition are two of the things that help me most in my law office.

    Bob

    Make Time for Your Health Now or Make Time for Sickness and Disease Later. Your Choice

  • http://customhomemadegifts.com Peggy Larson

    Routines are the answer! One can get much more done efficiently and quickly when there is a written routine.

    Peggy Larson
    Custom Homemade Gifts

  • http://chiahuihui.com/ Hui Hui

    I think the best company is always continually refine their systems to make it more linear and easy to detect and fix an error if they ever occur.This certainly can apply to our everyday life as well.

    Hui Hui
    http://chiahuihui.com/

  • http://successfulsalestools.com/ Bryan

    Systemization is the key. It reminded me a bit of the book the E-myth.

  • http://www.EslLessonUsingSocialMedia.com Eileen O’Neill

    You are absolutely right! For customer service to be consistent over the long haul, motivational guidelines, expectations,procedures need to be written down! Good customer service is not an accident – it’s planned for in writing and acted on.

    Eileen
    Using Social Media in ESL/EFL/ESOL…

  • http://www.ThingsToDoForFreeIn.com Michelle Mason

    Oops! I guess we need to think more about this problem. I have a few ideas…

    I hate procedures. They are a pain to write, no one reads them once they are written, they are out of date before the paper is printed, blah blah blah. But I see what happens when we do not follow them, and so realize they are a necessary evil. The bigger our company gets, the more we need to have clear procedures in place.

    Guess I better start writing and updating those procedures again…

    Michelle
    Fun and Free Activities

  • http://www.aprilbraswell.com Vegas Boomer Dating Expert

    I wanna see the herald run with THAT priority mail package. Where there is no accountability there is no work quality, don’t you find?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell

    Dating Expert and Online Dating Coach

  • http://www.simplesurvivalguide.com Rob Northrup

    I had a package with two ounces of Gold, two American Eagles, sent via USPS with Signature required and the package never arrived. My carrier signed fo thte package and left it in my mailbox. When I get home I need to deal with this, they are dragging their feet.

    Seize the Day,
    Rob

    Simple Family Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

  • http://www.pharmacytechnicianblog.com/ pharmacy tech

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!