Lst Saturday, I tuned in to Netflix, Prime, HBO and the Disney Channel to search for worthwhile entertainment. Thirty minutes later, with the Apple remote in hand, I settled on a mediocre flick, watching it all the way through despite having realized early on that it was unlikely to have redeeming qualities. The result was 90 minutes I can never get back (not including search time).
In some ways 2020 has been like that for a lot of folks—much wasted time. So far 394,000 minutes, give or take a few—and counting. Patience is wearing thin.
Once upon a time patience was considered to be a virtue. These days, its cultivation isn't a favored pastime. Suffering through toilet paper shortages, socialization restrictions and other privations hasn't helped.
Adding insult to injury are furniture delays. It's almost too much for people to bear and there's the potential for it to get ugly out there.
Many of you are bracing for and fielding complaints from unhappy customers, receiving unkind emails as well as threats of business-killing social media posts. Who can blame them? You have laid waste to their dream of having a beautiful home for the holidays. The child's desk they ordered is 10 weeks late and the whole family has to share one workstation! The ripped sofa you delivered hasn't been replaced. And, why can't they speak to your company's CEO, or better yet, the president of the manufacturer of the delayed item?
Supply chain issues are unavoidable, but it is useful to mitigate damage to your brand.
In this edition of Furniture World you will find common sense advice for adjusting customer expectations, under-promising at the point of sale and working to over-deliver. Contact customers before they call you. Listen sympathetically until they run out of words and then speak. Let them know what's going on and how hard you are working to make it right. Make sure that only knowledgeable and patient employees with people skills field these calls. Offer options or incentives when appropriate to help customers feel better about the situation. Where possible give them access to more senior members of your team. Supply frequent updates—the more personal the better. Create a process for engagement, put someone in charge and get all employees on the same page.
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.