It’s the Details that Matter

As individuals we frequently forget that in businesses and our personal lives the big picture is made up of the details!  When the details aren’t working, then the big picture is “off”.

Recently a long-term business relationship with a vendor I really enjoyed working with and respected became, to say the least, “dysfunctional”.  Everything with a very important, time-critical project went wrong.  Not just a little wrong, completely wrong.  The timing was tight.  The content was critical.  The entire project was on “expedite”.  The vendor was being paid for extra careful handling with fast tracking on the timing.  Within 24 hours of the project starting, the vendor got off track.

A Project Gone Wrong

All the requirements went in from my end and were confirmed received.  The point of contact in customer service on the vendor in received everything and got the ball rolling.  Submitted, expedited, scheduled, and confirmed the process was started in his organizations.  Things somehow went wrong from there.  Files were double checked and uploaded.  Confirmed received and usable.  Then, the files were shall we say “mangled”.  Yeah, that’s a good word.  Mangled.  The vendor then took ten days – seven days longer than the initial first deadline to provide the first look at the product of the mangled files.

Mishandling the Project and Compounding the Mistakes

The first look at the “product” of the mangling was not pretty.  It certainly was not anything I recognized.  The customer service from the vendor was also not anything I recognized.  They wanted me to figure out what had gone wrong with their process. What were they thinking? Asking the client, whose project has just been “mishandled” to figure out what is wrong? This is compounding the customer service and quality of service issues already experienced.  Beyond that in this situation…How should I know?  They needed to figure it out or start over and by the way…THE DEADLINE doesn’t change!

Well, I finally received a second version of the project.  Not much different than the first – mangled.  Two more days went by.  More than half the project timing has passed without an acceptable proof in hand.  Another round of “discussions” about the details of the project and the “big picture” – the deadline and the final deliverable.  We had more telephone review and discussion pushing to get the details and determine the problem with the files and the proof.  More time went by.  Two thirds of the time had elapsed and still there was no proof in hand.  Tick tick.  The clock is getting louder on the project and the relationship.

The Details and the Big Picture Matter!

Fortunately, for this project the product was for my business and not for one of my customers. Because while, ultimately the project was finished on time.  The product was not what was intended with a full 30 days and the ability to proof and revise the project as the “normal” process allows.  Is the business relationship the same?  Definitely not.  The details matter.  Knowing that deadlines, quality, commitment, and relationships count makes a difference.  When things go wrong, and inevitably they will, it is how you respond to make it right that matters. Sometimes the response is more important than being sure nothing goes wrong in the first place – because we all know things can and do go wrong.  We just want them fixed, and we want someone to take responsibility when they do go wrong.

It is much less expensive to do what it takes to retain a customer you have than to get new customers.  When things go wrong with projects, see to the details and keep the big picture in mind – keeping the customer.  You may lose some money on a particular project.  If you keep the customer, the profits over the life of the customer will make up for it.

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