I once heard Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah advise businesses, “Don’t make your process my problem. Solve for my success, not your systems.”
Six months into the pandemic, this strikes me as good advice for brands to think about their COVID response as well.
Many businesses continue to follow the same stock script using COVID as an excuse for all manner of customer experience let-downs, from long hold times to order delays to inflexible return policies (not to mention behind-the-scenes business practices of delaying payments to small suppliers or simply being unresponsive).
Many of these excuses are valid and legitimate. But I think there’s an opportunity for brands that can flip the script.
Tom Rector, founder of a custom merchandise company in Illinois called ScreenBroidery, is taking a stand that this is a time to delivery better service, not worse.
His company is trying to differentiate itself by exceeding expectations. A typical ScreenBroidery delivery notice reads: “Due to COVID and our commitment to you, we are shipping your order on time or ahead of schedule.”
Tom recently articulated their company philosophy as “COVID is not an excuse.” As he put it:
“We can all admit this COVID situation sucks. However, it should never be an excuse to underperform. Daily, I am receiving emails and messages on why orders are delaying, why wait times are longer than usual, why missed phone calls are not returning, why proposals are not prepared and sent… and on, and on, and on…
“If we are going to reboot this economy, we have to find solutions to problems caused by COVID and stop letting the situation be the reason why jobs are not completed in time…
“I’m on a mission to change the COVID excuse mindset, and I debate whether using COVID as a reason is legitimate….
“As entrepreneurs, we HAVE to find a way to get the job done. And as consumers/customers, we must stop letting companies off the hook for giving excuses…
“It’s my opinion that it is not fair to make my customer suffer for my inability to navigate a situation or solve my problems.”
Opportunity can come by zigging when everyone else is zagging.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: