I recently experienced how a company should not do business. Or possibly how to do business.
Here goes…exactly 1 year ago I commissioned a small furniture producer in Toronto (which shall remain nameless and you’ll see why shortly) to design and produce a couch for me. The design was based off something I had seen online so it wasn’t a huge effort to modify the design and build it. I also bought a made to order chair and ottoman from one of their stock designs.
Without going into all of the gory details, the couch and chair took 6 months to get delivered (after an intial promise of 10-12 weeks) and I finally got the ottoman last Saturday. I should point out that it wasn’t the ottoman that I ordered, but it was at least an ottoman and I took what I could get at this point.
So I pick up the ottoman at the guy’s shop (it’s a 2 person operation) and on my way out the door I spend about 20 minutes telling him very directly, in no uncertain terms, how poorly he does business. Everything from sales, to retention, production, fulfillment. Everything. He failed at nearly everything at nearly every step. I left the store thinking that my interaction with them was finished forever.However…I received an email from one of the partners the next day:
I’m not sure exactly what you do in management consulting, but we would like to propose something. Do you help businesses with customer and client management? We could use some help. I’m not sure if this is the sort of thing you do, but if it is, it would really help us out.
As a small company, we can’t afford to pay you for this service in cash; but we could offer to produce something you need much less expensively than it would otherwise cost.
I laughed out loud for a good five minutes after reading this email. Who would have thought that berating a store owner would result in this kind of offer?!
I don’t mean to imply that I’m a superstar management consultant (far from it), but what a brilliant move! At the very least they have shown that they really care about what their customers are thinking and even if nothing comes of it, I admit that I feel better about the entire experience than I would have otherwise. Did this offer “save” the customer experience? No. Would I recommend them to friends? No. But it’s better than nothing at all.
Should I consider their offer? On one hand, I’m thinking that getting involved with them again would be foolish on my part. As the old saying goes, “Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.”
However, I passionately believe that artisans should be able to make money at their craft. I believe that this city will be better off if they are in business. And frankly, it would be a neat challenge to see if I can help them out. No guarantees that I’ll be able to, but I think it’s worth exploring.
What do you think? Should I get involved? And I’m also curious to hear about some of your more bizarre customer experiences.