Admittedly, people do fail and they do make mistakes. But it is a greater failing if those mistakes are not identified or even worse, if those mistakes are repeated. It is much easier to say: ‘My secretary forgot’, or ‘The production foreman overlooked it’, or ‘The supplier is always late’, than to admit that you made a mistake yourself.
Contrary to that, it is seldom appreciated just how many people might contribute to the end product that arrives in the hands of a happy customer. After all, quality products and services all begin and end with quality people.
Talking about an agro-textile company, you will be surprised how it starts with a farmer, which in turn goes to weaving mill, to a designer, to a production line at a factory, to a finished garment, to a wholesaler, to a distributor- all this until you finally buy a shirt from a retail outlet!
It is the entire chain that contributes. As is said that ‘a chain is as strong as its weakest link’. This applies to organizations as well whether their workforce is five or five thousand. There can be record-breaking performances in one section, but if someone in another department drops the link along the way, the pursuit for business efficiency can be lost.
Customers don’t really care who dropped the link along the way. They are only interested in the final delivery across the finishing line. This is where another thing comes in- a thing called ‘customer service’.
Many organizations flaunt customer service without truly appreciating what it really means. True customer care goes beyond lip service. It goes beyond product knowledge and politeness. It goes beyond procedures and quality standards. That’s not to say that these aren’t important components in an overall customer strategy, but the icing on the cake, so to speak, is the genuine care factor.
I will explain what I recently experienced while checking in at a hotel during my international business trip. I arrived at the hotel reception, jet-lagged, with a terrible cold and no voice. As I was supposed to present my proposal to the cluster strategic team the next morning, this was indeed a predicament.
The receptionist pleasantly started her standard greeting, telling me about the pool, mini golf course, restaurants, and so on. Rather impatient to get to bed, I ignored the information and curtly informed her that I simply wanted my key. Reaching my room, I quickly unpacked, had a hot shower and was about to curl up in my bed when there was an unexpected knock on the door.
‘Room Service’ the cheery voice echoed. I somewhat bluntly informed him that I haven’t ordered room service. ‘Yes, we know you haven’t, Mr. Soomro. But we also know you are not feeling well so we have prepared hot lemon tea complimentary for you.’ Sure enough, on a silver tray, was exactly what I would have liked if I’d been at my home. That day this hotel bought my customer loyalty. This is in fact the genuine care that I often refer to in my business discussions. No doubt, customer loyalty can’t be bought, it must be earned!
Summing it up: People fail when they fail to recognize their mistakes. People fail when they fail to improvise the inherent weak links along the value chain. People fail when they fail to provide the desired level of customer care. Thereof, simply said…
Businesses don’t fail. People fail.
Mansoor Soomro works for Siemens Pakistan as Head of Commercial, Cluster Middle East. He is a permanent member of Siemens MEA I&C Managing Board- worth mentioning that he is the youngest Board Member to be on an international cross-country Managing Board in the history of Siemens globally.