Here's an email I got from a client today: "Don't you love hearing from me (am I your most neurotic client??)"
She was calling about a settee that came in wrong twice. Eeek. The first time there were nail heads on the piece when we spec'd no nail heads and for some reason it came in with bolsters. The second time it came in thankfully without nail heads but with 2 back pillows when she wanted one pillow.
No use in an email response. In these situations, it's all about the phone. So I called her and told her, "Yes, you are my most neurotic client, but you are also honest, know yourself, and know you are a worrier. You are direct and always say thank-you in the end. I feel appreciated and that is not always the case." I told her that I like her and don't mind in the least. Why is this so? In part, she's kind about it and she just needs to go through the process of breaking things down. She has that engineer's mind. Also I know I can make her happy. Every time something gets delivered, there's a bit of detail to go over, so after a year working together, I know to expect it… and that's why it doesn't bother me.
Something coming in wrong twice? That's not good. It's not unusualy for things to come in wrong once. But twice? This happens about once a year. People have a very hard time reading a spec, apparently.
When it got delivered the second time, I knew enough to be on site, just to make sure everything was all set. And sure enough, we had ordered one pillow along the back and 2 came in. So she didn't like how it looks. It's a small detail, ultimately, but she ordered it so and she should get what she wants.
In addition to that issue, the comfort wasn't quite right for her, so we came up with a solution to make the settee more comfortable and I set everything in motion earlier in the week. What prompted the email was she got nervous and wanted to talk it through some more before it was finalized. Maybe she wanted a cushion on the back, not a pillow. Maybe that would help. Maybe she wanted it firmer? Maybe it shouldn't be down and feathers.
This type of situation is THOROUGHLY annoying when things come in wrong, but unfortunately, it's part of the job. There's an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes "time suck" involving phone call after phone call and seemingly endless follow-ups.
- Is there enough fabric in stock to remake the pillows? Is the fabric still in stock? (With so many inventory issues in the business, this is the biggest worry. This time, stock was good; we got lucky.)
- No, I am not paying 2x for freight when it's the manufacturer's fault.
- Did the fabric get to the factory?
- Am I on the production schedule?
- When is it due to ship? Did it actually ship as expected?
- Oh it's local, great. OK, let's scheduling the new delivery. Reminder: no I am not paying 2x for delivery. Bill the vendor. Email to the vendor reminding them of this.
- Yes, I should come to your house for the delivery just to make sure everything goes smoothly. Of course, I won't bill for that meeting where I show up to watch the piece come off the truck!
- Oh no, it's not right AGAIN? Ok let's solve that problem… and then start the process all over again.
This time, I called the vendor said: let's cut our losses. Third time is not a charm. I'll have the back pillows made locally. I'll eat that cost. Can you cover the cost of new fabric? I am waiting to hear from the manager. It is simply more cost effective and a better use of time than to involve a whole new chain of calls for me, the vendor and the manufacturer to get it remade by them. I'd rather control it from my office.
Oh by the way, if you yell at people, everyone hates you and no one wants to help you.