The following post has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with service. Read it and then ask yourself if your own process is broken somewhere you can't see.
Last week, a staffer from the Pittsburgh Tribune came into our coffeehouse regarding a story on blogs in which we were to be one of several business blogs featured.
I mention this because while the Trib staffer was with us, one of our more liberal customers came into the store. Before the customer sat down he went to our newsrack and picked up a copy of the Trib to read over coffee. When we mentioned that he'd just made the Trib staffer very happy with his reading selection, our liberal friend decided to take the floor.
A political rant forthcoming? Nope. Far from it. He noted that there were numerous times when the Trib carried stories the PG didn't. With few exceptions he thought the content and journalistic quality of the Trib outperformed the left-leaning PG. And he admitted that he had home delivery of the Trib and wished that he still did.
A liberal dropping a subscription to a conservative paper? No surprise there. Happens every day. Some editorial or opinion just pushes the reader over the edge, right?
Not in this case. Our liberal customer didn't stop delivery because of anything the Trib's conservative reporters or the editors did. Rather, he stopped delivery because the person delivering the Trib could not or would not deliver it in a consistently appropriate manner. Some days it was in the hedges, other days in the driveway, some days it was wet from lawn dew, other days it was torn from bouncing along the walk.
However, his copy of the PG was always delivered in the same spot, every single day. He could count on it being tossed on his porch where it was guaranteed to stay dry. And that's why he kept getting the PG instead of the Trib.
How do we know he was telling the truth? Because the Trib staffer didn't request his name or address or offer him a way to receive the Trib without the problems he'd been encountering. All the Trib staffer did was agree that delivery did indeed suck and had for years.
In the coffee business we talk all the time about quality from bean to brew - the grower, the picker, the washer, the roaster, the barista - everybody has to get their job right for the product to be served at its perfect state. Even the world's most expensive coffee beans roasted to perfection can be ruined by a careless barista who, in pulling an overextracted or underextracted shot wastes the efforts of hundreds of people who were emotionally involved in those coffee beans before s/he took a cavalier attitude about serving them.
Likewise in tradeshows, all your staff sales training, all your expensive marketing materials, the hundred thousand you spent upgrading IT infrastructure and your reputation for operational efficiency will all go for naught if the person answering the phone is unprofessional - or worse, if nobody picks up the phone.
There are many ways your otherwise terrific process is exposed either directly through your staff, or through subcontractors and suppliers. Check your weak links. Then double check them.
Make sure you're hitting the porch every time and not the hedges or the wet grass.