There was a radio commercial for cell phones about twenty years ago that used connections and relationships in New York as the attention grabber. The commercial began with a man’s gravelly voice. He was a ticket broker in the city and talked about how he pulled off miracles for his customers. Of course, he was able to do this with the help of all the people he knew and had worked with over the years. When we talk about relationships, it is very important to know that these relationships have been built through honest dealings. You can get printing plants and customers to work with you if they know you are trustworthy.

I handle a client’s very large distribution project each year. The gathering of information from multiple locations is monumental. All the locations have to submit specific information for all the individuals on their lists, and this variable data must then be converted into easily understandable graphs that are then imprinted on preprinted 8×11 sheets. The whole project takes about five months from planning to distribution, and the reports must be ready to hand out on a specific date.

Unfortunately, one year there was a breakdown with this delivery. The long and short of it was that one group of locations closed earlier than the others and did not get all its reports delivered on time. Recovering from this was, to say the least, critical.

We were let down by our plant, which had run the job late, and had to come up with a plan to get this material mailed to the individuals’ homes. Our other priority was to pick up the material that had arrived too late to be distributed at the various locations. These reports had to be destroyed because they contained personal information and the client did not want them sitting, undelivered, on the premises.

The recovery took the client’s full cooperation because getting individuals’ personal addresses is tricky and confidential. (The client has to give permission every time anything is mailed to these individuals’ homes for security reasons.) We were very fortunate in that, although upset, the client realized that we, its trusted partner, were doing everything in our power to repair a potentially disastrous situation.

This required our plant to jump through hoops to reproduce 40,000 individual reports, preprinted forms, and envelopes in about five days. The plant responsible for the error then had to re-imprint the information and insert an extra letter explaining why this report was being mailed to each person’s home. The largest task fell to the delivery firm, which had to pick up the reports from some 1,400 locations as they were closing and then take them to a warehouse to be destroyed.

Fortunately, this all turned out OK, and although it could have been a deal breaker, the client was satisfied with the recovery effort. If anything, the client appreciated the effort that was made.

The point of this story is relationships. We––as a company––and I––as a representative of my company––had relationships with our client and with our plant that allowed us to take this negative situation and quickly recover from it. The plant trusted that we would appreciate its efforts and be reasonable about how quickly it could reprint the material. The client saw a quick resolution and was happily unaware of all the behind-the-scenes craziness that had to go into it.

As that cell phone commercial stated, it is all about relationships.

Author: Chuck MacGill


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