A View from the Second Mile: When Orders Take A Wrong Turn

June 09, 2016

A View from the Second Mile: When Orders Take A Wrong Turn

I’ve owned PROMOrx for 15 years. We’re resellers. The promotional products business is set up much like when you purchase a new car--unless it’s a Tesla. You go to a dealership, not straight to Chevrolet/Ford/BMW headquarters.

We have selected the factories we prefer to work with, much like you choose a new car. Our choices are based on several things--merchandise, their customer service, inventory availability, quality of their print or embossing. We also evaluate how they respond when there’s a problem.

When everything is being processed correctly, it’s easy to say ‘we have great customer service’.

What you do when there is a problem either throws you in the midst of the crowd or gives you an opportunity to leapfrog over the competition. It’s not a cheap proposition.

In our years in business, because of our selection process, we’ve had only a hand full of true problems. We’ve never missed a client’s event or meeting. Whew. But as we’ve said, we have chased a few UPS trucks to keep that record intact.

For the first time in years, we had one of those problems recently. A new client (of course), ordered portfolios printed with their company logo. We ordered the portfolios from a preferred supplier. Our notes showed no problems with this factory, other than occasional inventory backorders.

Long story shortened: client received their order and found the print crooked on some and ink not adhering to many other portfolios. OMG

The custom printed portfolios that were not acceptable were picked up and shipped back to the factory for evaluation. A reprint was started. We talked to one of the factory’s management team not just the customer service reps. We were assured they would get these portfolios printed correctly this time.

The reprint ships. Client receives the second shipment and tells us there are still problems with the print on the padfolios. Seriously.

If I could have climbed in a hole and pulled it in after myself, I would have. 

I told the customer I would refund his entire order.

They could keep, donate or dump the portfolios they had. (There were some that were not a problem.) I think I actually said they could throw them in the river--we laughed and decided not a good idea since their logo was printed on them!

I then called the factory to find out what they wanted to do. I was curious. I had already done what was right for my business. They wanted to have the client box them back up, issue a call tag with UPS or FedEx and see them. I said NO WAY. My client needs no more aggravation. They had the opportunity to fix the problem with the printed portfolios. They didn't.  This is my business reputation. The client doesn’t know the factory. They know PROMOrx. 

NOTE: PROMOrx is an e-commerce business--our suppliers as well as 95% of our clients, are not local to us.

What makes this bad situation bearable is what this client said to me: “I knew you would take care of the problem. But you truly went over the top by refunding our entire order. “

Let me add that this client has been an absolute pleasure in every interaction--on the phone or by email. Not everyone would have been as kind. Those of you in sales or customer service know what I mean.

Did we have to refund the entire order? No. We could have made the client go back through every custom printed portfolio, check them all and tell us how many were okay. Why didn’t we do that? It’s like rubbing salt in a wound as my Grandmother said. My goal was not just a positive outcome, but excellence. Second mile service. 

UPDATE: We found the client another portfolio. 

How does your customer service rate?

Least acceptable? Bare minimum?

Ahead of the crowd?

It’s a choice every day. 

There’s never a crowd on the second mile.


Blogger: Vickie MacFadden, the PROMOrx.com owner. I'm a tell it like it is Southerner who loves tech and is insatiably curious. I'm the author of the infamous 5.5 Ways to Know if Your Company Swag Sucks Vickie at PROMOrx dot com 

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