Remedying a Catastrophe

14 Nov

In this post, I’m going to tell you about how successful communication techniques saved me from a near catastrophe. Two months ago, I became the CEO of Fresh Prints, a student-run business that organizes custom apparel orders for collegiate organizations. When I first took the position, I was excited and ready to deal with the responsibilities that come with managing a business…at least that’s what I initially thought. In my first month of management, the first order we received was for 1,500 shirts and I was ecstatic. Everything seemed to be going well until about a week later when we got an email from our client informing us that the wrong design was printed on all 1,500 shirts. My heart sank into my stomach. Not only was this going to cost us thousands of dollars, but I also knew that I had to find a way to handle this situation immediately to ensure that we didn’t lose his business in the future. I decided to send him an in-depth email explaining what had happened and detailing our method for dealing with the situation. When writing the email, I adopted the following strategies:

  • I made sure to not dance around the issue–I addressed it in the first paragraph.
  • Tone is key: I was apologetic, but didn’t use clichés, such as “we are just as devastated as you are” and “this tragedy.”
  • I included important information about how we were going to rectify the situation and reimburse him.
  • I finished by emphasizing that the situation did not reflect the usual quality of our services and that we would we take all necessary steps to make sure this would never happen again.

Although our client was disappointed that he received a defective product, he was very pleased with the steps I took to address and correct the problem. From this experience, I learned that customers ultimately forgive mistakes if you exercise the proper communication strategies; what they don’t forgive is a lack of responsiveness and effort to immediately correct an issue.

by Jacob Goodman

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