Earlier this week, I tossed, turned, worked, and worried before finally succumbing to sleep at 5:00 a.m. I had just received a phone call from a client who was terribly unhappy about our work. While I had heard rumblings about this client’s dissatisfaction, I hadn’t realized the scope of the problems. We had built a flawed, bugged system, which they’d abandoned out of sheer frustration.
The funny thing is, I had unknowingly asked our caller how the application was working, and was shocked to hear her simple yet surprising, calm acceptance, “We stopped using the software long ago; everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.” I hung up as embarrassed as I’ve ever been.
We’ve had great satisfaction with our reputation for attentiveness to client needs, so how on earth could we fail so miserably this client? Generally a hands-on manager, why had I not been involved in rooting out answers to their problems? How do we prevent a recurrence of this scenario, and more importantly, how do we go about winning back the confidence of this customer?
Over the next day or so I was so taken aback by our collective failure. Sales for not indicating to me the depth of the problem. The programming team for simply giving up on fixing the bugs. Me for not having our staff understand that a client problem was our problem.
Problems like this are small failures that will ripple into potential failure for us as a company. Over the past year we’ve been fortunate to land several large projects, but our busyness creates its own challenges. There are things that must be done in the housecleaning department that we simply don’t have time for. Ditto for new in-house products and projects. And obviously, we may be falling short in the attentiveness department.
So, the morning after my sleepless night, I arrived early and invigorated for an impromptu meeting. I made an unpopular decision: forty hour work weeks were not an option until we had a laundry list of “to dos” completed. The first item on the agenda is addressing our client’s software.
All companies make mistakes, and hopefully, most of them will learn from their errors. We are no different. I am no more afraid to openly admit those missteps than I am to share our successes. Because remember, those successes may have found their start in the fixing of an error.