BLAMING YOUR SUB-CONTRACTORS

While we were still living in Aspen, my wife Lori and I decided to build our first house.  For anyone who has ever gone through this process, it is a real learning experience.  In fact, when I retire from entertainment, I’m grabbing some of the best set carpenters I know and becoming a general contractor.  Pride in workmanship,  finishing on-time and on-budget, and delivering what was promised, are not stories you hear too much from those who have built homes, offices, or even a new bathroom.  Usually when you go to your general contractor (as we did) with a problem, they just blame the sub-contractors on the job.  This practise is not limited to the construction business.

I’m not big on writing complaint letters to companies.  Before my email to the Santa Barbara Olive Company, I had never sent one before.  But you see, I love olives!  Santa Barbara Olive Company became my favorite brand, even though they are more than twice the price of others.  But over the last few months, I noticed that their product wasn’t just off, it was bad.  So I wrote a note to find out what was up.  Below is the response the company sent 2-weeks after my email. 

Hi Jim,

We’d be happy to answer your questions. Olives are a fruit and as such, they will come in different sizes, textures, color, etc. This past year, the olive crops around the world were not that great. Everyone suffered. We expect the crop to be better this year. To answer your second question, when we run out of olives on our own olive farm, we turn to other farms in California and Spain and Greece to supplement the demand for our products. We always buy olives from farms that have similar growing practices to our organic farm here in Santa Barbara. But again, the not-so-great olive crops may have hindered the usual robust flavor.

If you would like, we can send you a coupon to get a fresh jar at your store. Please let us know by return email. Thank you for taking the time to write to us about your concerns. We greatly appreciate feedback from our customers.

Regards,

Santa Barbara Olive Co.,Inc.

In the above note, Santa Barbara Olive Company does answer my questions.  But the way I read this note, they are not standing behind their brand.  Here is what I would have done if I were them…

  1. Send a response the same day.  If you are going to have a website that you advertise on your bottles, you should have someone monitoring that site and responding in a timely manner.
  2. Explaining a problem is one thing, making it your excuse for a poor product with your name on it is bad business!  Don’t blame the subs.
  3. Why should I have to do anything to get a coupon?  I should have just gotten the free jar…or even a case just for taking the time to write.  Many times a company can take these situations and turn an unhappy customer into a very happy one by overdelivering. 
  4. Explain how you intend on fixing the problem in the future…or you will be dropping prices due to a bad crop…or something that isn’t… just too bad.

If someone takes the time to write you a note, make a call, complain to one of your employees, etc, your customer service people must look into the problem immediately and communicate with that customer so they feel like they were heard…and the issue will be resolved. 

If you want to point the finger at someone else for your problems, go into politics.  Otherwise, take care of your customer even if it isn’t your fault. 

Talk with you soon…

Jim

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