Fail Friday: How a Perfect Coating Might Still be All Wrong

Imagine for a moment that you’re a powder coater.

You manage a well-regarded, family-owned blasting and coating business in Lincoln, NE. One day, a customer drops off two signs (that look very similar to one another), and asks you to powder coat one in blue and one in yellow. You do it, and they come out looking fantastic. You’re pleased, and so is the customer.

The next day, the phone rings. It’s the customer. They start with “The coating looks great, but…” and your stomach drops.

It turns out that you mixed up the colors – you coated the wrong one blue, and the wrong one yellow. Though the signs looked similar, they had holes in different locations. You must have tagged them incorrectly before they reached the shop floor, and now when the customer hangs them, the colors are in the wrong order.

You ask the customer to drop them back off, and rush to re-do them correctly with a next-day turnaround (at no charge, of course).

There’s nothing imaginary about this situation. It happened to me – and Kaser – a couple of years ago, exactly as described.

I share my failure, because it’s useful. The truth is that you can be an expert powder coater – you can have the most sophisticated pretreatment processes in place, the best colors in stock, and years of experience spraying. You can be known for applying high-quality coatings with reliably-excellent adhesion, but none of that matters if you’re applying perfect coatings to the wrong parts.

Customer service is all in the details.

Needless to say, this failure prompted us to re-evaluate our tagging process. Though I’m not proud of the mistake, I’m proud of how we handled it. We learned from it, and haven’t repeated it since.

Whether you’re in the powder coating industry, or perform any other customer-focused service, take note: all the skill in the world won’t make up for a lack of attention to detail. Lesson learned.

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