How to Prevent — and Fix — Busy-Season Blunders

Mistakes are unavoidable during the hectic summer months, but keeping your established processes in place helps minimize them
How to Prevent — and Fix — Busy-Season Blunders

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During the busy season, there are so many moving pieces. You have deliveries and pickups every day. It’s hot, so trucks can break down. You might have new employees who are unfamiliar with processes, and last-minute orders are almost guaranteed. How do you keep all your customers happy when so much is going on?

When in doubt, stick to what you know best. You have procedures in place. In busy times, always fall back on these. If taking an order requires five steps, do all five steps. Don’t rush through three and then move on to the next order. You won’t remember to go back to those last two steps and something is bound to fall through the cracks.

Having a system of checks and balances is a great way to stay on track of everything. Those steps are there for a reason. For example, our customer service department has a log of all orders taken each day. Dispatch marks off each order as they get it. Then the dispatcher matches those orders to a list of drivers doing the work. When the work is done, the driver returns his or her paperwork to the dispatcher so everyone knows the job was completed. It may seem tedious and excessive but you know that the toilet was delivered and the customer is happy. 

Of course, no matter how hard we try, things happen. A delivery is missed. You ran out of equipment and someone received a really old and beat-up toilet. The truck broke down and the driver was three hours late to deliver. An order fell through the cracks. All of these things have surely happened at one time or another.

Now you have an angry customer and you have to make it right. The first thing to do is apologize. Even if it isn’t my fault, I usually take the blame. If I say the driver was late or the dispatcher forgot, it just seems like I am pointing fingers or making excuses. So I calmly apologize and explain how I can fix the problem. 

It is crucial to have a solution for this customer. You need to be able to fix the problem. For example, if the equipment is bad or the toilets were delivered late, you can offer a discount. You did the work, so giving a full refund means you are at a loss for this job. But some form of a discount means hopefully you and the customer walk away satisfied. 

If the order was completely missed, try to find a work-around. Maybe the event doesn’t occur till the next day. If that is the case, try to push the delivery to very early the next morning. If you are very late for a delivery, try to shuffle some things around. When in doubt, just try to get the restrooms there as quickly as you can.

The best way to fix a mistake is constant communication. If we are late, I continue to call the customer, updating them on the estimated time of arrival. If the restrooms are bad, I explain that we are finding a different unit to deliver and the driver will be there in X amount of time. Ignoring a customer just makes them irate. So no matter how painful it may be, make sure to pick up that phone.

Mistakes will happen. Summertime is busy and you have equipment shifting around, sometimes on a daily basis. If your procedures are strong, you will have minimal mistakes. But when they do happen, just smile, apologize and work hard to quickly find a solution.

About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.


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