You have to have bad days, even bad weeks sometimes. You know the good ones in comparison to the bad ones. This is what I am reminding myself this week as things anticipated are not happening and things that I thought were fine are completely broken. Making mistakes in a product business is really costly and generally takes a significant effort to dig out of. It is almost always the smallest, most obvious details that are overlooked… Mistakes that no one notices that snowball into huge mistakes.
In this most recent case, the wrong sample tubes were sent. Instead of sending me the tubes I was purchasing, the tube manufacturer sent me and everyone else a shorter version that they had on hand. They didn’t say they were the shorter version and I never took a ruler out to measure the difference in length. So now I am sitting on 20,000 boxes that are too short for the tube.
Mistakes happen. Things get overlooked because we get so busy solving one problem, we don’t perceive the ones we are missing. We make assumptions that we shouldn’t and don’t know we did until it is too late. Mistakes teach us and can actually bring people together if everyone involved is willing to take their part of the mistake and carry a portion of the burden. Sadly, this is often not the case. The tube company does everything they can to not be accountable for their mistakes. Each time, it erodes my confidence in the relationship between us. A lot of business people don’t understand that their wealth lies not in their payment but in the confidence that their customers have with them.
Here is the thing that matters the most- relationship. Money always comes after relationship. When people aren’t willing to work through the issues that are created all together, the relationships are damaged. Good customers are worth helping. Good relationships are worth the effort. These are the real products of producing things.