Choices, Consequences, Humor(?) and E-mail

There are some folks you just can please. Makes no difference what you do or how you do it, it seems you just can win. And those are often the folks that provide the greatest lesson. Often those are lessons we need but least desire!

Take for example a customer I recently had the opportunity to work with. Seems that nothing the folks in our sales and service department did, could provide satisfaction. Every time I would hear this customers name I kept hearing in my head the old Rolling Stones song, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”

No one could please him and as one might expect…the less he was satisfied the more he wanted to take his request to higher authorities. Well the buck’s gotta stop with someone…and in this case it was me. So I did what any good sales executive would do…I listened – and listened – and listened. And no matter what solutions were offered – it wasn’t good enough.

Demanding – probably a minor understatement, but at least the communication was via e-mail (at least most of it). I was the conduit between our customer and our supplier and it seemed with the completion of each request – more demands were made. Either I couldn’t give him what he wanted when he wanted it or the supplier could get his requests done correctly or timely enough.

The frustration was increasing with each passing day. More importantly, I thought, I’m spending way to much time on someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate my service or effort. And more demands!

Lesson: Watch what you put in an e-mail – because Every choice has a consequence!

I was frustrated with the customer, he with me and the supplier with both – and yet the supplier still hadn’t complied with the customer’s last request.

So out of a moment of anguish…I e-mailed the supplier and stated the following:

Guys…I know it seems I’m bugging you, but this guy (referring to the customer) would drive Jesus crazy. Can you please send me what he’s requested so I can get him off my back?

You have no idea how happy I was to find an e-mail in my in box with the customers request met from the supplier. “Finally!” I thought. “Now I can get him off my back!” And then I did what seemed to make perfect sense at the time.

Any readers want to guess what that might have been? What choice did ole Chuck make? Yep, you’re right – I forwarded the response to the customer. I was so pleased to provide him what he wanted…I just sent the response forward.

Think about it. Absorb it. Let it really sink in. Then please…feel complete permission to laugh. Although, I can assure you it was no laughing matter.

Keep in mind, every choice has a consequence.

As I traveled home that day I was alerted to a message on my cell phone. Not being able to take the call when it came in…I retrieved the message only to find my entire demeanor change.

“This is (name deleted to protect the innocent customer) and, Mr. Gallagher, I wanted to call and let you know that I just got off the phone with your boss explaining to him my dissatisfaction with the service I’ve received – especially your comment that I would ‘drive Jesus crazy’!”

The rest of the story – well that isn’t relevant to this blog. What is relevant is the use of e-mail and the consequences that can follow from unintended thoughts sealed in fate when you hit the “send” button. In the White Collar Crime Prof Blog the following is stated: “The ‘send’ button — together with its evil cousins, ‘forward’ and ‘reply all’ — are causing a world of trouble for corporations as they connect to evidence in legal proceedings and create a new mess for in-house lawyers to clean up.”

Fortunately, for all involved, my mess was cleaned up by profuse apologies and extraordinary service to follow. It was not a legal issue, but e-mails certainly can be.

Issues related to frustration with employees can rear their ugly head in a wrongful dismissal suit. Or, e-mails between employees who (for a time) are fond with each other can become the foundation for a sexual harassment suit. Name it and an e-mail can be either wonderful evidence to prove an issue or become a disaster upon discovery.

Morale to the story: Keep your personal thoughts personal…cause anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Don’t forget – Every Choice Has A Consequence.

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