The delivery at a client’s company arrived late. And although that was foreseeable, nobody dared to call. The excuse: “I don’t have time to inform every single customer if something goes wrong.“ But now the client is on the phone and he is really angry.
That would never happen when you are in charge, right? Congratulations, you do a better job than most of your colleagues. However, the above-mentioned scenario is rather the rule than the exception. And the standard excuse is “no time“. But hidden behind that is a fear of transmitting bad news and having to withstand the reaction.
Mind you, clients that do not get informed of a problem in time get even more furious. And it takes way more time to calm them down again. What’s more, you leave a bad impression when you treat them like that.
That is why I say: If there is an uncomfortable issue, go and get in trouble as early as possible. First of all, you are over with it faster. Secondly, the client can adapt to the situation, and thirdly, they will not be nearly as angry as if they get the bad surprise without a warning.
The situations to apply this rule are manifold. The above-mentioned delivery delay is a classic. However, price increases, additional costs in a project or other deviations also lead to procrastination.
Finally, I’ll tell you a quick story. Many years ago I worked for the carrier TNT in customer service. There I “inherited” a client who received shipments three times a week at 12 o’clock sharp. I was told that she was “super-nasty“ if something went wrong. Three weeks later I had her on the phone - screaming and raging. After that had happened to me two or three times I called her and asked what was in the packages. She told me that we transported blood plasma that she and her team had to analyze. If they weren’t punctual the team was “workless“. So we made a deal. I monitored the shipments every morning and if there was a delay I informed her at 8 am. That way she could plan the day differently and everything was ok. Suddenly my “stress-client“ became very agreeable. My predecessor had never found time to do that.
Ok, now call! Give your customer a fair chance to prepare for problems. And if necessary, get in trouble! It’s worth it.