In business, your name is – at the most basic level – all you’ve got. So whenever you sell anything, you must make sure it is of the highest quality, it is backed up by top-notch customer service, and that you don’t just deliver on all the promises you make in your advertising… you over-deliver. When you do make a mistake (it happens), you must do everything you can, as quickly as you can, to make it right.

Which makes Martha Stewart and Kmart’s reaction to a “misdesigned” patio chair quite surprising. Turns out the chair, a kind of stationary rocker, has a flaw that can sever the fingertips of those who take a seat and rest their hands in the wrong place. Several people have been injured.

Martha has dismissed the claims as exaggerated. And Kmart has yet to recall the chair (although the version now being manufactured has been redesigned).

This is, obviously, an unacceptable response. But are you doing something similar (albeit less physically harmful to your customers) – even on a seemingly insignificant scale? Selling e-books with outdated information… Releasing goods with cheaper packaging… Cutting costs with an automated answering service instead of live customer service representatives? And when customers call you on it, do you get belligerent and defensive?

It could be something small in your eyes. But in a customer’s eyes, it could be reason enough never to come back.

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