Monday, 8 March 2010

Mishaps, Mistakes and Misapprehension

I haven't had the best week in my Etsy shop (located, of course, in the luxurious Kitsch & Curious Plaza). Plenty of orders, yes, but I managed to foul up half of them.

A customer asked about several items, mostly dolls, and wanted to know the combined shipping price. It was over the previous weekend, and I couldn't get to weigh them until Tuesday. Unfortunately, by that time, three of the items had been sold to someone else. I felt really bad that she'd missed out, so I found some similar dolls from my stock and took some quick photos to let her choose which ones she liked. I felt I was doing quite well on the customer service front. She chose some, but that was when I started to realise that English was not her first language, as her emails became increasingly cryptic.
Unfortunately, I then discovered that in my hurry, I hadn't noticed that one of the dolls she chose had a missing leg. (In my defence, she had a very long skirt!) I cursed my stupidity and set about sending her another email to explain, and to apologise. I offered it to her for free, as I'd messed her about so much. Then, still trying to please, I found another similar doll, in mint condition, for her to buy if she wanted.

This is when it got a bit complicated.

I'll spare you any more long explanations. Several emails went to and fro. We both did our best, but confused each other. In the end, I think I sent her what she wanted. I hope she's pleased when it arrives...
In the middle of all this, I received another order and payment for a previously reserved item, and I rushed to post it promptly. Then last night I got an email from the customer asking why the item she'd reserved had been sold. My heart sank. In my haste and stupidity, I'd just assumed the buyer was the same person who'd reserved it. It wasn't. I hadn't checked, and it turned out to be someone completely different. There were a couple of things that helped in that assumption, but in the end, it was just my big fat mistake.

(If you're not familiar with Etsy, the only way to reserve items is just to write "Reserved for X" on the listing. You then have to hope that everyone else pays attention and obeys. I've now learnt the hard way that doesn't always happen.)
As if all that wasn't enough to make me doubt my aptitude as an online shopkeeper, I then got very frustrated by having to answer a series of questions from a customer who'd managed to forget that she'd asked me the same questions about the same item two weeks previously!

OK. Deep breath. At times like this, I try to console myself with the thought, 'The person who never made a mistake, never made anything.' Back in the days when I had a 'proper job' and was a manager, I said this to one of my team, to make her feel better about something she'd done. She'd never heard it before, and it was a huge revelation to her. It made me realise it's a powerful thought, and I try to keep it in mind when I drop these enormous clangers.
I don't like making mistakes, but I can admit to them. It's harder though, to accept that they can be beneficial. You can't always learn to get things right, until you've got things wrong a few times. So I try not to mind when I have to undo ten rows of crochet, or unpick a badly-sewn seam, or apologise profusely for my own stupidity. It's all learning.

Hmm... I do try to think like that, but not without a lot of swearing first. And I try to accept other people's mistakes too. But yes, that can also involve swearing.

And, I'm still a little cloudy about what I've been learning from the cock-ups this week. More haste, less speed? Check everything properly? Stop using Etsy? Become a lighthouse keeper?
Oh well.

Finally, I wanted to thank you all for the brilliant comments you left on my last post. Really interesting stuff. I feel reassured about concentrating on safe packaging, and not worrying over much about free gifts and bows. However, given my performance this week, the phrase "rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic" springs to mind...


TK said...

Swearing is a vital part of the working day and here is academic research to back that up:

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Too stressful ! It proves my theory ,though , that once it all goes wrong , it just keeps on going wrong-er .
On the other hand , everyone will have appreciated your determination to keep everyone happy !

marble rose said...

Oh this post struck a chord today - I have lost a cheque for £65 - sigh....