No matter how “together” we are as adults and business people, whether or not we are mature and responsible “role models”, events trigger emotions, both good and bad – disappointment, anger, confusion, frustration, resentment, to name a few. Those emotions cloud our judgment. They act as filters on our perception of subsequent events, of people, of places, and of things.


If you like someone, the language, mannerisms, or behaviors of that person are filtered through that positive feeling. On the other hand, the same characteristics you accept in someone else are unacceptable in a person you dislike.


A bad experience or mood or the similarities between someone you know and someone you just met can cause you to transfer your emotions and perceptions onto an unsuspecting recipient.


Bad Customer Service, Negative Emotions


Recent experience with a publishing project illustrated this point for me. The vendor selected to distribute a particular project (actually a set of three items) as a test, has yet to produce a single item and is now four months past the first “deadline”. As the commercial goes “fortunately I paid on my credit card”.


On another recent project a different vendor whose history has been one of beating deadlines and surpassing quality expectations, beat this project too – to death! And not in a good way. They beat the deadlines to death…they put the dead in deadlines by not executing well – actually missed deadlines by weeks when the whole project was only 30 days long! Missed quality! Missed customer service! Missed on everything! “Oh you were supposed to have that yesterday…someone will get to you on Friday. Do you want to call back then? How about on Monday, the third week of a four week project which has not begun!!!!”


You Are Entitled to Your Emotions – Use Them Constructively


You get the point. Emotions everywhere! I really believe I don’t have to spell out my emotions. Where was I? Well, distance has helped. I can actually look at the book with pleasure now. I can even contemplate the next one. I like looking at the royalty checks too. Will the emotions carry over to the next book? Yes, the level of trust I have in the vendor is forever damaged. I am looking at other options and vendors for future books and projects. They have still out-performed other vendors, but is that saying much? I don’t know.   The truth is this: a simple “We’re sorry,” would have gone a long way toward mending the relationship. I’m still waiting for those words. Everyone makes mistakes. Making them right is the point. Accepting responsibility goes a long way toward making up for them.


From a customer service perspective, when something goes wrong with a project, pretending your organization hasn’t made a mistake isn’t strategy. It is a tactical error of major proportions. Your customer knows – and you know they know – there is an issue. In this example, the project has a specific timeline that is written into the contract. The project materials are submitted. The next day the publisher calls. A meeting is set up for a design session within three days and so on. When the Day One phone doesn’t occur, and on Day Three there is no design meeting. when by Day Seven there is no initial phone call, and when by Day 14 there has still been no design session, and the entire project is supposed to be complete within 30 days. . .?


The book did get finished within 30 days. How? A couple of sleepless nights spent reading defective galleys…Yeah, more issues than missed deadlines, but that is fodder for another article. It wasn’t about extra effort on behalf of the publishing house but about my effort and commitment to meeting my deadlines.. Hmmm…maybe a little more time and distance would be a good idea – or maybe another publisher. Only time will tell.


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