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Business Letter Writing - Adjustments

( Originally Published 1918 )



The Obligation To Satisfy. — Trade that is worth going after is worth keeping. The only way to keep it is to satisfy it—in the quality of the merchandise—in the price—in the prompt and efficient service—in the adjustment of complaints—in the handling of collections—in the whole-souled cooperation that recognizes that the manufacturer's as well as the jobber's duty to the customer is never wholly discharged until the goods have been moved off the dealer's shelves into the hands of the ultimate consumer; and jobber, dealer and consumer all satisfied.

It is only by following such a course that loyalty is established and sustained, and loyalty means continued patronage and continued profit.

Because the obligation to satisfy is the price of continued patronage, the responsibility laid upon the handling of letters of complaint is exceedingly heavy. If the subject matter of the complaint is handled to the satisfaction of the customer, and he recognizes a consistent broad-minded policy to please and to be both fair and liberal, he will not fail to advertise the fact on every hand. If, on the contrary, the quality of mercy is somewhat strained, and the house is stern and unsympathetic, though within its legal rights, so that the expected treatment is not accorded, that fact like-wise is given even a wider and more disastrous publicity that reflects itself in shrinking sales within the radius of that customer's influence. After all, the good opinion of a house on the part of its customers is one of the most valuable assets possible. It can be enhanced or given incalculable damage and injury through the attitude in the handling of its customers' complaints.

Customers Viewpoint—Keeping the customer satisfied means treating his complaint from his viewpoint. He has, perhaps, sent the money for the goods with his order, or has discounted his bill before their arrival or has at least obligated himself to pay for the goods on certain terms, and they have not arrived, or something is wrong, and he is "sore." He sits down and writes a let-ter about it, for it is a vital matter with him, and losing sight of everything else that the seller may have to do, he wants his grievanec corrected at once. Perhaps he has already sold the goods and his customers are clamoring for delivery and they have not come, or, having arrived, they are not what was ordered. He sees no further than his own troubles for they loom up large before him.

But he is a customer of the house and his trade is needed. If he is not kept in line, his patronage will surely go elsewhere.

The only sure and safe rule in handling complaints is to put yourself in the other fellow's place. Look at the situation as he does. See it through his eyes. Recognize what he is "up against" and then go and settle the matter with him just as you would expect if the tables were reversed.

Sympathetic Attitude Best.—There is no loss of dignity or manliness in assuming a sympathetic attitude toward the complaining customer. It is but a recognition of a situation that is causing the customer annoyance if not a financial loss, and it is immaterial whether the fault be the ship-per's, the customer's or that of a third party. Generally speaking it is not enough to do what the customer wants done in making an adjustment. The manner, the attitude is equally as important, if not more so. Who has not returned unsatisfactory goods to a store and had his money refunded, but in such a grudging manner that there was an instant vow made never to buy a dollar's worth there again—and the vow kept. The trouble was not that the sought-for adjustment was not made, but rather the manner in which it was made. Manner is communicated just as easily by letter as in person and the wrong manner is just as fatal to a continuation of cordial relations when even read between the lines of a reply by mail as in the spoken word or the frown or the expression of disgust.

It is far better to say in response to a complaint about non-arrival of goods, "We are exceedingly sorry to learn that our shipment of the 25th has not reached you, and we started a tracer, so that if they are not at hand when you receive this, we will duplicate the shipment, if that is your pleasure," than to say "We cannot understand why the goods have not been received. We made prompt shipment, and if the express company has not delivered them, it is their fault, not ours. We will take the matter up with them, and do what we can to hurry things along." The former will hold trade while the latter would tend to drive it away.

Honesty Prevails. — In selecting the proper attitude towards complaining customers it must be borne in mind that the great majority of people are honest and truthful. The recognition of that fact goes a long way in making it possible to approach a settlement in the proper spirit — the proper spirit that makes and keeps friends of one's customers. If there should linger in the mind of the writer of an adjustment letter any suspicion that the complaint was not well founded, that suspicion would inevitably show itself in the phraseology of the letter, and the damage would be done. It is true that there are dishonest customers who make dishonest claims but their number is so relatively insignificant that, practically without exception, the larger houses make it a rule to accept the first complaint from a customer at its face value and settle accordingly. Many keep a complaint file so they are able to check back against a customer's record and so gain a pretty accurate estimate as to whether complaints are a habit and adjustments a method of securing more than they are entitled to. Such customers are dropped, without even an intimation of the reason, although the customer may conjecture.

More At Stake Than the Amount Involved.—The one big thing to keep constantly in mind in adjustments is that good business dictates that frequently adjustments should be made even to the point of assuming an actual loss on the particular transaction, in order that the customer may be abundantly satisfied and his trade retained. In other words, a satisfactory adjustment-satisfactory from the standpoint of the customer—is often the price of that customer's continued patronage, and it so generally follows that such patronage is retained that the policy that "the customer is always right" has become so widely accepted and put in practice.

Instance after instance could be cited where houses have gone far beyond what was required of them under the circumstances in order to satisfy some unreasonable customer, and in return received additional orders that so much more than made up the loss sustained in the adjustment that it was the best kind of business to have done just what the customer wanted.

Nothing in business is more helpful, nothing more beneficial, than the reputation of liberal dealings in cases of adjustments, and by the same token nothing is more detrimental, more damaging than a reputation for a coldblooded, unsympathetic, suspicious, narrow attitude that stands firm on legal rights.

While books may chart the safe channel, yet one has to really grasp the tiller of actual experience and come to know, from an intimate knowledge of human nature, how to discern the instances where a present loss is a future gain in the successful handling of complaints.

As the letters of complaints already given cover the great majority of causes, the replies or adjustment letters will be in answer to them, and in their order.

Wrong Goods Sent.—The reply to the complaint that the wrong goods had been sent (p.1085) should be along the following lines:

We can readily understand your feelings when you unpacked our shipment and found that we had bungled your order—for that's just what we did-no mistake about it. And the fact that the shipment you received was intended for the Smith Furniture Company, of Evansville, Ind., to whom your goods were sent through careless marking of the cases in our shipping department, does not help either you or them.

In order to correct this error as speedily as possible, we have wired the Smith Company to have your goods sent you by motor truck at once, which will pick up the shipment you received and thus make the exchange without putting either of you to the delay incident to freight shipments.

We have prided ourselves upon our very efficient shipping department, but you know, "pride goeth before a fall," and we had that fall. But you can rest assured that this experience will make that department all the more careful in the future, and put us all on our guard against the happening of any thing that might tend to impair the service that you have a right to expect and that we feel obligated to render.

Kindly advise us as soon as the exchange has been made, and should there be any delay, wire us at our expense.

Notes—(1) The reply, at the very outset, recognizes the disappointment of the customer and promptly assumes the blame.

(2) In explaining how the mistake occurred, there is no attempt to evade responsibility, but rather to suggest how easy it was for it to occur.

(3) The two customers being within motor truck dis-tance of each other, the shipper takes the quickest way to rectify his error by telegraphic order that the exchange be made by truck, disregarding the increased cost, if only his customers may be the better served, and their friendship and patronage retained. Had the distance been too great for motor truck delivery, each customer would have shipped to the other by freight unless time could have been saved by making proper shipments direct and having the wrong goods returned by each customer.

(4) The closing paragraph is intended to impress two facts upon the customer; one, that the shipper recognized the importance of an efficient shipping department and tried to maintain such a one, and the other, that the error having been called to the shipper's attention, extra watchfulness would be maintained throughout the entire organization to guard against any impairment of service.

(5) The request that the shipper be advised of the receipt of the proper goods or notified by wire of any delay shows that the adjustment is not considered made until each customer is actually in possession of the merchandise ordered.

Damaged Goods.—There is only one attitude to be taken in regard to complaints about dam-aged goods, and the same applies equally to goods not up to quality or sample, as tritely expressed by one sales manager who has been most successful in maintaining cordial relations with his customers: "The money a customer pays us for our goods is one hundred per cent good United States money, and it is our obligation to see that he gets just as good merchandise. Although we are sure the goods were all right in every respect, packing and all, if the customer assures us they were not so when they arrived, we make it right, irrespective of whose fault it was, because we consider it good business to do so. The goods must satisfy the customer on arrival. Nothing Iess will ever hold patronage, and it costs less to hold a customer than to replace one."

Never let your letters breathe a suggestion of suspicion as to whether the customer is telling the truth or not. If you want corroboration, put it on the ground of needing it in order to fix the responsibility where it belongs, such as evidence that will make it possible to recover of a common carrier, if it could be shown the damage occurred in transit.

If the damage is such that it can be repaired locally, try to gain the customer's consent that it be done at your cost and so save shipping charges. But put it all on the basis that the goods must be made right or returned. An expressed willingness to "go the limit" with a customer often makes it unnecessary to travel the full distance.

The reply to the complaint that two phonographs in a shipment were badly damaged (p.1086) should be:

It was as much of a disappointment to us as to you to learn that two of the phonographs included in our shipment to you of April 21, arrived in a badly damaged condition.

Our merchandise must reach you in good, sal-able condition and we have not discharged our obligation to you until such is the case. This applies equally to the two phonographs in question.

The one with the broken leg you will kindly return to us in the smashed case but recrated, so we can have it available if required in connection with the settlement of our claim against the express company. We most certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness in taking the signed statement from the express driver. That will also help.

As to the other, we suggest, if it meets your approval, that you call in some good cabinet maker and ascertain if he can refinish the scratched side so it will be as good as ever. If he can, have it done at our expense. If not, return it with the other.

Our shipping department is at a loss to under-stand how such a scratch could occur, as they say that no nails are or should be used where they could protrude and cause such damage. But we are facing facts, not theories, and the case being damaged, it's up to us to make good, and we're glad to do so.

When you write us regarding the scratched case, also please advise us whether we shall replace the returned instrument or instruments or give you credit.

Notes—(1) The letter opens with a friendly appreciation of the feelings of the customer when the damage was discovered instead of expressing surprise or doubt as to the real facts.

(2) The statement of the rule of the house as to the condition in which goods must arrive instantly relieves any doubt as to whether the shipper is going to stand by his merchandise and assume the responsibility of good order delivery. It goes a long way in increasing confidence and loyalty that can not easily be shaken.

(3) The instrument with the broken leg is ordered returned without question and the customer is thanked for his foresight in taking the acknowledgment of bad order delivery of that case.

(4) Rather than order a return of both instruments, the shipper tries to gain the consent of the customer to have the scratched case repaired locally, if possible, and the whole tone and attitude shown in the letter is such that in most cases the customer will at least take steps to see if this cannot be done. Good, salable merchandise is all that is required, and such damage repaired locally is just as good as though the work were done at the factory and the same instrument then returned but without statement that it was the same one. The whole matter is put up to the customer either to return it or follow the shipper's suggestion. To have given positive instructions to have the damage repaired locally might have resulted in a point blank refusal and the loss of the cordial relations that otherwise would have existed.

(5) The reference to the opinion of the shipping department regarding the scratch is merely to show their care in packing and not to shift the blame, which is made clear by the statement that it is enough that the scratch was there to make it incumbent on the shipper to make it right.

(6) The customer failing to state whether he wanted 'other instruments in the place of the damaged ones, or a credit on the invoice, the shipper raises that question, showing that throughout the whole transaction his aim is to satisfy the customer and thus, in spite of the incident, to merit a continuation of his patronage.

Shortage of Goods.—This is the tender spot with nearly every sales manager. It is a claim that is so easily made and almost impossible to check up against and disprove, even if it were policy so to do, for he knows that if his letters breathe a suggestion of doubt or suspicion—bang goes a customer and some other house gets him. Here is where the complaint record comes in handy to see whether this sort of a claim is an isolated case or a habit. Yet in the face of the first inrush of doubt, the sales manager must re-member that the great majority of business men are inherently honest, and such claims must be treated from that standpoint.

Then some rather caustic letters about short-changing a customer in goods may come in from some irritated customer and shatter the present ability to write a diplomatic, tactful reply. In that frame of mind the reply should never be at-tempted else irreparable damage may be done. It is the sales manager's job, or the job of whoever has the handling of complaints to accept all such letters with the best of grace and smile and dictate a reply that will assuage the injured feelings of the customer and make a friend of the man who is ready to tell the house where to go. This is the most important lesson to be learned in connection with the handling of complaints.

As has already been noted in the section on letters of complaint, claims for shortage of goods divide themselves into two general classes; bad order cases and good order cases, and the latter are also divided into instances where there is evidence that pilfering has been done while in transit and where indications point to the shortage having occurred through omission of goods in the . shipping department.

Bad Order Cases.—Where a case of merchandise was received by the carrier in good order and delivered by it in bad order, with some of the con-tents missing, the situation is very simple—the carrier is liable. But this does not alter nor affect the responsibility of the shipper to the customer to see that all of the goods purchased are received in good order. The word "responsibility" is used, and not "liability," for one has to do with a business custom or policy, while the latter is only concerned with a legal liability, such as the courts could enforce. Many concerns state on their order blanks, invoices, etc., that their responsibility or liability ceases with delivery in good condition to the designated carrier, but such a notice avails nothing when the customer fails to receive all that was shipped, especially if the shipper expects to retain that customer's trade. In other, words, business houses find it necessary, every day, to go far outside of what the law might exact of them in their dealings and settlements with their customers, in order to hold their trade and to attract added customers. So the warning is passed to those who some day will be in charge of dealings between buyer and seller to disregard, to a very large degree, strictly legal refuge from liability and follow more closely to the Golden Rule which is daily becoming more and more the guiding principle of successful business houses.

The customer who finds that on checking a shipment against the invoice, certain goods are missing, is not going to be content to be told that he has a claim against the railroad or the express company. He expects the shipper will assume that claim and fight it out, but give him the goods —right away. And he knows that if the shipper is unwilling to do it, there are others a-plenty who will, and there you are! It is clearly indicated in the letter of complaint (p.1088), and the reply should read substantially:

We are very grateful to you for so promptly notifying us of the shortage in our shipment of May 15, our invoice No. 978, and regret as much as you do, that the same occurred.

We know how exasperating it is to be expecting goods and then to find that some, and usually those most needed, did not arrive. We have been through the same mill on shipments of raw material.

There has already been sent you by parcel post, insured, Receipt No. 456532, 2 boxes each of Long Life Men's Hose in sizes 10, 10% and 11, blacks, to take the place of those missing from the former shipment. We trust they will arrive promptly and be entirely satisfactory.

Furthermore, we want to thank you for taking the memo. from the freight agent of receipt in bad order, and will you either send us the original or a copy, that we may have it for use in support of our claim against the railroad.

While we deplore breaks in the high degree of service we try to maintain, yet we are glad to know when they do occur, and how, in order that a repetition may be guarded against as far as possible.

Notes—(1) There is an instant bond of sympathy established between the parties in the first two paragraphs of the reply, and all based on an unquestioned acceptance of the facts as stated. The attitude is right.

(2) Without evasion or quibble, the letter informs the customer that the missing goods have been duplicated and even the serial number of the parcel post insurance receipt is given. This statement of prompt shipment is where it belongs. The customer is more interested to know that the goods are on the way than even to be thanked for taking an acknowledgment from the freight agent that the case arrived in a damaged condition. Such prompt compliance with his request insures his cooperation in any steps necessary to enable the shipper to collect from the railroad.

(3) It is proper to ask for the freight agent's memo, of condition or a copy.

(4) The closing paragraph is designed to impress the customer with the shipper's desire to maintain a highly efficient service and to bespeak co-operation that it may continue.

Good Order Cases.—Where the packing case arrived in apparent good order, yet upon opening it the contents were found disarranged and short, even though it may be more difficult to recover from the carrier, yet there is no lessening of the business obligation to make good the loss.

In a case like that set forth in the letter of complaint (p.1090), the reply might very properly fol-low closely the first three paragraphs of the one given above as well as the last, and substituting for the fourth, the following:

We wish to thank you for your very careful examination of the shipment and its arrangement, or rather, its disarrangement, and we agree with you that the goods missing were taken out after the shipment left our factory.

As you state, our packers would never have permitted a shipment to go out in that condition. No empty spaces are ever left in any shipping case. In this instance we have looked up the shipping ticket and the inspection record, and they both show that all the goods covered by the in-voice were packed and shipped.

We are making claim for the shortage upon the railroad company, and would thank you for a copy of your notations with the date and names of your employees who were present, unless you are willing to retain a copy yourselves and send us the original. It is indeed a pleasure to receive the co-operation of the customer in matters of this kind.

Notes—(1) The reply is both cordial and appreciative and corroborates the customer's estimate of the shipper's care in packing the goods.

(2) Like the former letter, reference is made to the duplicate goods being shipped before taking up the matters connected with how or when the shortage occurred.

(3) The closing paragraph commends the action of the customer in verifying the shortage and the facts as to the condition of the contents and makes assured any further assistance necessary to enable the shipper to recover as against the carrier.

It is where there is no suggestion or intimation that the goods had been taken while the shipment was in transit that the claim of shortage is a troublesome one to handle, for the shipper is loath to admit his own organization is at fault. But on the other hand there stands the customer whose patronage is valuable and who is surely entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

The more definite the letter of complaint as to any facts that even tend to justify the claim, the easier it is for the shipper with good grace to accept the statements of the customer and reship.

But if he's wise, except in flagrant cases, he'll do it anyhow, and write a letter something like this:

We thank you for calling our attention to the shortage in our shipment of April 22, of a dozen assortment of Sun Bright Flash Lights included in our invoice of that date, No. 564.

It is disappointing, to say the least, as we know ourselves, to be expecting certain goods only to find they have been omitted. Of course they are the ones you are short on.

Insured parcel post is already bringing you an-other assortment and we shipped that way because we believed we would be able to hurry them to you quicker than by any other way.

We want you to know that we appreciate the checks you had taken to determine the shortage, and we only wish our other customers would be as caretaking as you have been in like instances.

While we deeply regret your inconvenience and the fact that our shipping department fell down on the job, it is only by having our failures brought to our notice that we can be jolted out of our self-satisfaction and redouble our watch-fulness. Jack us up again when anything goes wrong, but we hope it will be a long time.

Notes—(1) The letter puts the house instantly in tune with the feelings of the customer when the shortage has been discovered and tends to remove any resentment that might have been harbored. In other words, the parties meet on common ground, and there is nothing to quarrel about. The fight has been taken out of the customer by the reference to the fact that the shipper also knows what it means to have goods short.

(2) Without attempting to excuse or explain how the shortage occurred or to attempt to demonstrate how it could not have occurred, the letter gives the very information the customer wants—that a duplicate shipment is not going to be sent, but is already on the way. That is what in the vocabulary of the customer, spells "Service."

(3) Where the customer has shown corroboration as to the fact of the shortage, as in the complaint (p.1090) to which the above is the reply, it is advisable to express appreciation. Where the customer merely states the fact of the shortage, this paragraph must necessarily be omitted.

(4) The expression of regret in the closing paragraph is always proper and the statement that complaints are welcome in order to point out the weak spots in the organization and thus lead to their correction carries a good impression and is evidence of a genuine desire to serve.

Inferior Quality. The one thing that a manu-facturer or a jobber hates to receive, more than almost anything else, is a complaint that his goods are of inferior quality. This is, of course, where they are sold as "firsts" and not as "seconds," for every manufacturer has a certain proportion of his product that, for one cause or another, does not measure up to his fixed standards of quality, and most generally they are sold with the under-standing that they are substandard, and priced accordingly. Competition is the great spur to the maintenance of quality and when that breaks down patronage hangs by a slender thread. Self-interest, therefore, demands that no customer be permitted to retain inferior merchandise, unless compensation be made in a reduction of the price. Even that does not wholly square things, for there is apt to linger in the mind of the customer a doubt as to whether the incident does not signify an attempt to cheapen the product, which means an impairment of confidence.

This is why so many manufacturers and jobbers lay special emphasis on quality, constantly insisting, as one manufacturer expresses it, that their goods range "from the best there is to the cheapest that is good.

Closely interwoven with this is the much discussed evil of returned goods, meaning the practice that is altogether too prevalent of retaining merchandise for some time and then returning them on one pretext or another. It is difficult to draw the line between the cases where returns should be permitted or refused. Each must be handled with regard to the particular circumstances surrounding the transaction, taking into account the influence of the decision on future business from the customer. Their are cases where it might be more profitable to lose it than to continually be imposed upon, and this pre-supposes not an isolated case, but such frequent repetitions that good faith on the part of the complaining customer is destroyed. Even in such eases the refusal to accept returned goods should be so couched as to show the reasonableness of the refusal and so still retain the patronage. Tact and diplomacy here have a very important part. In the general run of cases, like that shown in the letter of complaint about the rubber balls (p.1093), the reply might properly be:

You have done us a real service in advising us of the defective quality of the rubber balls shipped you and invoiced under date of May 16, and we are grateful to you for so doing.

You bought these from sample, and you certainly had a right to expect that the goods should be of equal quality.

We have examined the dozen that you returned to us, and we would not want you to retain them under any consideration. Therefore we would ask you to return the goods to us and we have this day forwarded to you by express another shipment, the entire lot having been first care-fully examined by us, so you may be assured that they will measure up in all respects to the samples shown you.

The manufacturer who supplies us with these goods has a reputation in the trade for high quality merchandise, and we have continued to handle the line owing to the universal satisfaction which his product has given our trade. We state this only to assure you that it is our constant aim to handle only thoroughly dependable merchandise which will be a credit both to ourselves and our trade, and we gladly stand back of every article we sell.

An incident like this only serves to make us the more watchful of quality which is our hobby, so help us keep in the saddle.

Notes—(1) The opening paragraph serves at once to put the customer in a friendly state of mind, while the second states exactly what he knows to be the fact, and which was the basis of his claim. This puts the parties in perfect accord, and the balance is easy.

(2) The third paragraph necessarily directs the return of the imperfect goods and further cements cordial relation-ship by advising that another shipment has gone forward without even waiting for the return of the former. The reference to the examination of the goods in the second shipment was made to insure confidence that they would prove to be in perfect condition and thus avoid any further trouble.

(3) If the shipper had been able to dispose of the goods to some other dealer in or near the customer's city, who was in a position to handle "seconds," the letter would have given directions as to such shipment, stating that transportation charges would be paid by the other party or charged to the shipper.

(4) The reference in the fourth paragraph to the reputation of the manufacturer for quality merchandise was made in order that the customer might be assured that every possible step had been taken to insure the handling of only dependable merchandise, and to convey the fact that the imperfect goods in question was only an isolated case, one of those slips in inspection that will get by in spite of every reasonable precaution.

(5) Had the shipper been out of the goods and unable to have made a duplicate shipment, he would either have sent a credit memo. to cover the amount of the invoice, or would have endeavored to pick up another lot from some other jobber, and if successful, stating the fact without divulging the source, as evidence that nothing was left undone in order to render the customer the desired service.

(6) Had the customer not returned a sample of the defective goods, the shipper, were there any doubt in his mind, might have asked that to be done, and deferred the settle-ment until the same arrived. This should only be done in exceptional cases and the letter should be exceedingly tactful to avoid giving offense.

(7) Where the amount involved is large or the distance is not too great, a representative of the shipper might be sent to inspect the goods, with authority to make such a settlement as the facts warranted, and in such a case, the letter to the customer should state that the representative will be authorized to make an immediate settlement, in or-der to avoid any impression that the house is attempting to dodge any responsibility. A step of this kind is more frequently taken where seasonable goods are involved or there is some reason to question whether the condition of the goods is as bad as represented. If there is any question as to the financial condition of the customer, it may be better to accept a return of the goods without question than to become involved later on.

Goods Not Arrived. - The question here is more one of policy than anything else, as the fact as to whether goods have arrived or not can usually be ascertained by a wire to the carrier's agent at the point of destination coupled with a request for reply, charges collect. With parcel post shipments the check is not so easily made unless the goods were insured, in which case a record of delivery is kept.

The governing principle to be kept in mind is that customers buy because they need the goods, and place their orders far enough ahead so that allowing a reasonable time for delivery, the new stock will be in before the old stock is exhausted.

Take the case of jobbers buying from the manufacturer. Frequently the jobbers' salesmen will have sold practically all of the goods before they have arrived, and a delay in receiving them car-ries a string of trouble all down the line, affecting jobber, dealer and the ultimate consumer. This is the obligation resting on the seller to make delivery. As that obligation is promptly discharged trade will be found appreciative and loyal.

The reply to such a complaint, might very properly be:

We can well appreciate the disappointment and the annoyance you have suffered through the failure of our shipment of April 25 to arrive, and we thank you for bringing it to our attention.

While we have started a tracer, we would not have you inconvenienced a day longer than necessary, so are sending you this day a duplicate shipment and have so marked the invoice herewith.

For our own satisfaction, will you be kind enough to advise us if this second shipment arrives promptly. If the former one should arrive, let us know whether you can use both lots, and it you cannot, we will give you early shipping instructions.

We are always glad of the opportunity to do anything in our power to serve you and to keep your wants supplied.

Notes—(l) Notice throughout the entire series of letters how the attempt has been made to look at the situation from the viewpoint of the customer. Where there has been a just cause for complaint, acknowledge it frankly and do not try to dodge the responsibility, but rather assume it; then rectify it, and lastly, if possible, show such facts as will put you in line for a continuation of the customer's patronage.

(2) The above letter states, in the second paragraph, that the shipper did not even wait to ascertain the results of the tracer sent out, but promptly sent forward the duplicate shipment. Nothing more could be expected by the most exacting customer, and nothing could do more to show a genuine interest in the welfare of the customer. Such a policy is bound to result in a continuance of patronage.

(3) The shipper asks that he be advised of the arrival of the duplicate shipment as well as of the delayed one, and also whether the customer can use both, if both come to hand. The customer is at perfect liberty to refuse the second one to arrive, even though he takes it in and holds it subject to shipping instructions. This request to hold it is to enable the shipper to use the goods to make some other delivery at some nearby point, thus effecting a saving in freight charges.

Goods Not Shipped.—Not infrequently the delay in receipt of the goods is caused by the inability of the shipper to get the goods either from the makers, or if the shipper be the manufacturer, to fill the orders in time.

Where there is a delay in making the shipment, the customer should be notified and. not wait until he makes a complaint. Even before writing, an effort should be made to secure the goods from some other jobber so that the letter explaining the delay can state what has been done to supply them.

If it is impossible to make the shipment, but other goods can be shipped, inquire of the customer if he can use such as can be promptly shipped, and if not, then agree to a cancellation of the order if he cannot wait.

There is nothing to be gained in "stringing" a customer. The facts serve best and a reputation for fair, square treatment, even in the face of in-ability to make delivery in time to meet the customer's needs, will often hold patronage where concealment and unfulfilled promises will fail.



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