Thursday, February 9, 2012

They're Everywhere, Everywhere

Today I bought two packages of 3 cupcakes. One was marked appropriately as a 3 count package. The other was marked at a higher price. Though it only had 3 cupcakes, it had the label for a 6 count package.

Someone got a 6 count package for the price of a 3. Lucky them!

I've seen the same error in other stores. Items are mislabeled.

It's especially bad when the errors are put into the computer database that way. Product has the wrong name. Books have the wrong author. In one company, we had 10,000 part numbers and probably 2,000 were duplicates of another because the description had been slightly different. In one case, I've seen 6 part numbers for the same material because of variations in spaces, nomenclature, etc.

Many companies try to fix these problems by creating standard part numbering schemes and description rules.

However, it all relies on someone's keyboarding skills and later their matching skills ("where is product A so I can put label A with it?").

Mistakes happen. It's how you're going to recover after the discovery of the mistake that's a key to growth. When I bought the cupcakes, I asked the Customer Service Manager to check me out so she knew about the mistake. It happened that the Bakery Manager was right behind me. However, he didn't appreciate the light jibing we shared about the situation. She told him to lighten up; it's not a big deal.

Once is not a big deal. But if the same customer finds lots of errors, it's a big deal. It turns into lost business.

Encourage your employees to pay attention and double-check their work. It's not error-proof, but it will reduce the frequency of mistakes. It will also stress how important it is to be as accurate as possible for the long-term health of the business.

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