Running A Business

The Customer That Almost Wasn’t

Apr 04, 2013 • 3 min read
Table of Contents

      I bought a hat.

      Normally this uninteresting story would end there, but this time it doesn’t; let me explain.

      I found the hat when I received an alert from a daily deal site. I instantly liked the hat, but I didn’t have any money at the time for an unplanned expenditure so I dismissed it. To add some context to the story, let me say that I’m not a person who usually likes to wear hats, so the fact that I was still thinking about it days later was unusual.

      When my paycheck finally came, I was pleasantly surprised to see the hat was still on sale and I decided (in my mind) to make a frivolous purchase and buy it. Afterwards I felt good about my new accessory and expectantly began waiting for the day when it would be delivered.

      After about a week, I went to the website to learn when I should expect my new hat and was dismayed to read that the standard shipping time was 15-20 days. (I’ve been spoiled with Amazon’s 2-day shipping for too long.) So I began to impatiently wait and my disapproval of the company increased with each passing day. After 20 days, the hat still hadn’t arrived. I began to wonder if I should try cancelling my order and attempt to get my money back. After a few more days passed, I emailed the company one night and though I was irritated, I consciously choose to be polite in my inquiry.

      I received an email back the next morning from the manufacturer of the hat asking which site I had purchased it from. This allowed me to deduce that the manufacturer is likely an entrepreneur, possibly working from her own home, and using multiple sites on which to sell her products. I supplied her with the information she requested and later that same afternoon, she had replied. Here’s her response.

      “Ok, I found it!  Your order shows up online for the end of February, but, it didn’t come with our February report for some reason, so it was missed. I am so sorry! We try to have orders shipped within 3 – 5 days, and yours has been WAY over that. I feel so bad and I am glad that you contacted us. I made your hat today, and shipped it out first class. I also included a couple of small extras because of the mistake. Again, I apologize and appreciate your patience and understanding.”

      After I received this email, I was appeased and this is why:

      –          She responded quickly to all of my inquiries

      –          She apologized sincerely and she sounds like a human, not a corporation

      –          She’d done research to find out what went wrong and gave me a small explanation. I can accept a simple one-time mistake (whether a computer or a human error) which in this situation I don’t believe equates to habitual company negligence / mismanagement

      –          She thanked me for my inquiry and for alerting her to the error

      –          She immediately saw that my order was corrected and filled

      –          She took extra measures and cost to expedite my order

      –          She went above and beyond to include some freebies in connection with her apology

      I received the hat the next day and have worn it on numerous occasions, proving a satisfaction with my purchase. Not only did this business owner succeed in turning a bad situation – to good, but I would shop her products again AND recommend the company to friends. That’s a long way from the disappointed customer I had previously been.

      I think her apology is a good model for other businesses but I’d like to hear your opinion. How would you have handled this situation?


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