I was reminded again recently of the importance to small business (or any business, for that matter) of “doing the right thing” when it comes to your customers.

My wife and I support a local preservative-free bakery in Victoria – Portofino Bakery – as they produce all sorts of breads and other baked goods that we really enjoy. Recently, we had a less than perfect experience with a couple of loaves of bread that went mouldy almost overnight, not something that we had come to associate with Portofino. My wife contacted them to advise them of the problem and their response was incredible! She received a lovely email from the owner, Jaap Verbeke, apologising for the problem and who also personally delivered fresh loaves to our door yesterday as a sign of good faith. Jaap also took a few minutes to explain that the bakery has recently moved to new premises and has had a few teething issues including this new problem with some product going mouldy. He also explained, clearly, the steps they are taking to rectify the problem.

My wife certainly wasn’t expecting this level of reaction to her complaint, all she wanted was to alert Portofino to the problem and to find out if maybe we were doing something wrong with storage. What we got was superlative customer service and a sterling example of a small business “doing the right thing”. And what Jaap got back was a reconfirmation from two customers that his bakery is tops on our list and we are, assuredly, customers for “life”.

It doesn’t take much, when you think about it, to lose a customer; a little indifference or, perhaps, a little arrogance and customers can desert you in droves. By the same token, it also doesn’t take much to turn a bad situation around and bind a customer that much closer to you. A little honesty, an admission that a problem exists and a genuine desire and effort to fix the problem are all that is required. It doesn’t matter about your size, you can be a one man shop or a multinational, it still all comes down to the same thing … doing the “right” thing.

So, Jaap, thanks for reminder about how to do it “right”. There is a lesson in here for all of us in business.

Doing the “right thing” in business
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