Monday, October 14, 2013

Bad Quality?

I worked over 10 years in manufacturing, and one of the big topics we heard routinely was about quality.  In its basic form, quality is about satisfying customers and continuous improvement.  We tracked issues that our customers reported to us, reviewed with the team, and determined ways that we could prevent those issues from repeating.

In my private life, I've never been big on reporting poor quality when I've encountered it.  Especially at a restaurant.  I usually just make a mental note not to order/buy/use again whatever it happened to be.  But due to the training on quality I had on the job, and how hard we strove to satisfy our customers, a few years ago I started giving companies the benefit of the doubt.  Overall, employees really do try to do a good job.  I know our employees did.  Unfortunately, mistakes happen and quality can be affected, whether it's a variation caused by a machine, material, person, or whatever.

I don't always do it, but when I think about it, if something goes wrong & depending on the circumstances, I contact the manufacturer or company responsible.  Each time, the few moments of inconvenience (experiencing the poor quality and the time it takes to reach out to the company) work out to my favor in the end.

For example, a couple years ago, I found a hair in a package of turkey burgers that I had purchased.  Yuck!  Nevertheless, I contacted the manufacturer and was rewarded for doing so.  Why?  Companies want our business!  If their customers are not satisfied, then they take their business elsewhere, share the bad business with their friends, and companies lose sales.

That wasn't the first time I reached out to a company about poor quality, not was it the last.  I recently purchased a bag of grapefruit at my favorite grocery store.  I love grapefruit -- tart, juicy, tart, tangy, and just a hint of sweetness.  Yum!

Fast forward to breakfast the next morning, and yuck!  Peeled & opened my first grapefruit from my purchase and found the inside of the grapefruit to be black, mushy, and looking more like mud than ruby red grapefruit.  I should have taken a picture, but it was pretty gross to look at, so I just tossed it in the trash.

The disturbing grapefruit, however, weighed on my mind, so this morning I decided to contact the company that this particular bag of grapefruit came from, Sunkist Growers.  I wasn't interested in getting something in return, simply wanted to inform them of the issue I encountered.

Within an hour of completing the online "Contact Us" form, this is what I received in return:

Anthony, Winnie J.
To Me

We appreciate your taking the time to contact Sunkist Growers regarding your recent purchase of Sunkist grapefruit.
Sunkist Growers and its affiliated packinghouses are very conscious of the quality image associated with the Sunkist trademark.  Through the efforts of packinghouse personnel and the Sunkist Quality Assurance Department, every effort is made to maintain this image.
The normal way of examining citrus is to cut random pieces and inspect for interior quality.  Obviously, it is impossible to cut every piece of fruit, but this sampling method usually allows inspectors to separate the good fruit from the bad.  Unfortunately, some inferior fruit can get by.
Citrus is a perishable commodity that is subject to so many variables.
We apologize for any disappointment you may have experienced with our product.  While only the retailer can issue a refund, I am sending by mail some coupons we hope you will use to try our citrus again.
Sunkist Growers

Surprise!  A super quick response to my notification.  Plus, some coupons coming my way to make up for the inconvenience.

It doesn't require someone to get angry, yell, scream or fuss.  Just simply saying hey, something went wrong and I want to make sure you're aware.  Like I said, companies want our business.  They'll thank you for taking your time to contact them. And you'll be glad you did. :)

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