When Problems Arise
February 16, 2018
What happens when, despite a company’s greatest efforts, an order or project doesn’t go as planned? What actions does a company take when it has an unsatisfied customer, or when a miscommunication results in a hiccup with a partner?
The reality of business today is that glass industry companies must do more with less. Not only is the industry dealing with a labor shortage, but it is also at a tipping point with technology. Company investments in high-speed automated lines, integrated software and safety measures bring opportunities to have fewer touchpoints with product, overall higher quality and greater output. But they also bring with them the risk of larger errors. Even though every good business has processes and procedures in place to maintain quality, efficiencies and, most importantly, safety, mistakes can happen.
In the event that they do, here are some actionable steps that will help a company get back on track when there is a bump in the road.
1 - Be accountable.
Just like anything in life, owning the issue and acknowledging it with the customer (or vendor or colleague) is a necessary first step. The most important part of this step is to keep it as genuine as possible. A personal phone call—or better yet, an in-person visit—is always better received than an email or note. It helps reinforce the importance of the relationship with that person or company, and it shows the situation is being taken seriously.
2 - Create an action plan—for now and later.
Fostering an environment of corrective action means finding the root cause of an issue, executing a plan to fix it and then implementing long-term measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Again, communication is key here. When a customer knows when and how the problem is being resolved, the relationship is preserved, and trust is already starting to be rebuilt.
It’s also important to keep this open dialogue with all vendors and partners. Although a company must take ownership with the customer, making sure every step of the process is examined and every party understands what can be done better in the future is critical. A company should establish a key point of contact with each vendor so that when something needs to be discussed, managers know with whom to speak. Keeping a consistent stream of positive, open communication in every facet of your business is an easy way to keep everything running smoothly.
3 - Learn and move on.
Once the problem is resolved, and the processes and procedures are in place to ensure it isn’t repeated, a company should move on from the situation both internally and with the customer. When addressed the right way, getting through a particularly challenging time can deepen relationships and build credibility with customers.
4 - Always be safe.
No matter how urgent the issue or how quickly something needs to be addressed, safety should always be the number one priority. Through automation and other technologies, the industry has eliminated many different touchpoints—and, therefore, risks—when it comes to glass production. But there will always be associated risk factors when operating machinery on the plant floor. Companies should put employee safety first, and invest in the education, procedures and appropriate measures to keep a safe working environment. That’s a business pillar any customer can respect.
In this fast and furious industry, companies are bound to be faced with challenges. How a company responds to them can significantly affect its reputation and future success. If a company tackles each hurdle as it comes its way with an authentic, communicative and solutions-oriented mindset, success and happy customers will naturally follow.