When things go wrong

Image thanks to gCaptain

I get it, things go wrong. Mistakes happen. In this ever more complicated and interconnected world it is inevitable that the systems will break down from time to time. 

The problem is that we can’t afford for it to go wrong. We expect goods to be delivered, if not instantaneously, at least next day. Yet as soon as something gets stuck then it all goes to hell in a handcart. Just look at what is happening in the Suez canal. Who would have thought that a single ship, admittedly a very big one would manage to wedge itself across both banks. A single incident has blocked one of the world’s most important shipping ways and billions of dollars of business are stuck behind it, with the amount increasing every day.

By now the shipping companies are looking at different routes but this will add more costs and time delays to the consignments.

Something similar, though on a much smaller scale has happened to me last week. In an effort to get a parcel to my daughter for her birthday I used one of the well known national carriers. All went well until, for some inexplicable reason my parcel got lost, in my local depot. I suspect, with the volumes they are handling, as soon as something went wrong it quickly disappeared into a backlog of parcels. Perhaps even a mountain

I only became aware of the issue however when I rang up to complain that it had not been delivered. Even though the company knew it had my parcel, knew it hadn’t left my local depot and had all my details, I didn’t get an email to let me know there was a problem. Having worked in logistics I understand that at the end of a shift a report would be run to say that x parcels have come in and y parcels have gone out. 

What upset me most about this incident was not that the parcel got stuck, as I have said, things to do go wrong, but that I had to contact the company, they at first argued with me about what I had paid for and then agreed to log a call and send me an email. Three days later, it seems they have found the parcel and are dealing with it once again, yet still no acknowledgment of the issue has arrived.

Problems are an opportunity to get on the front foot with the customer. By letting them know there is a problem before they are aware is actually a good way of building a reputation. Hiding from the issue does the opposite and I am reluctant to use the parcel company again.

I just hope the Taiwanese owners of the MV Ever Given (Evergreen) understand this.

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