We have all been there. A client (or designer) is making changes at the last minute and it pushes our timeline back. Typically, they are frustrated but understand that it was their behavior that caused the delay and we do our best to mitigate the issue and get things back on track as fast as possible.
Last week we had the client who did not understand. We had a Future Automation lift mechanism specified into the project. The client and designer made several changes to the millwork design, which necessitated custom changes to the lift. They could not settle on a design, so after alerting the client via email that we would incur delays, we asked Future Automation to put the order on hold. With a six-week backlog, Future Automation had to ship product to other customers, and we got bumped.
When the design was ultimately finalized, we were told the millworker needed the lift in one week. We reminded the client know that, based on all the design changes, we had to relinquish our spot in the backorder process. The client was apoplectic. They yelled at me and my office manager. They called back to yell some more and sent irate emails. Were it not for the great relationship we have with the designer and the architect, I would have walked away. But I could not do that, so I persevered. I got on the phone with the amazing team at Future Automation and explained how things were progressing. I reiterated that I knew it wasn’t their fault, or ours for that matter, but if there was anything they could do to calm the situation, I would really appreciate it.
Being a very small customer for Future Automation, I was not expecting much. We do not do much business on a regular basis with them, so they did not have a huge financial incentive to help us out. To my surprise, they rocked it. They checked with their secondary factory, which had some room to squeeze in our order. It would be ready and shipped within a week, so it would only be a day or two behind the client’s schedule, instead of six weeks.
Then they really shocked me — it got there in six days, ahead of the client schedule! While all I got was a quick “thanks” from the client (I wasn’t expecting much more), I was thrilled with how Future Automation handled it. Just as we try to do with our clients, they surprised and delighted me. I will now show them much more loyalty and direct more business their way. If this is how they treat all of their customers, large or small, they are a company with whom I want to do more business.
Then I got to thinking. I thought about all of the smaller projects that we have turned down in the past because we “only work on $20,000 and up projects.” How many of those smaller projects would we knock out of the park and lead to extremely happy clients who would be loyal, do more work with us, and refer us to friends and colleagues? I know I have written about the “no job is too small” mantra before, but I seem to end up veering away from it. All it takes is a few to blow up and I get frustrated. But I need to be better than that. We need to be better than that.
Everyone deserves amazing customer service, regardless of the size of their order. We deserve that from every manufacturer in our industry, and our clients deserve that from all of us.