Here in Cincinnati there is a company called Graeter’s that makes, arguably, the best ice cream in the world. Admittedly, I’m biased, but the stuff is truly fantastic. They use what’s called the french pot method, which basically means that they are doing it all in very small batches, and that all of their “…and chip” flavors have gigantic slabs of semi-sweet chocolate mixed in. I strongly recommend checking them out if you ever visit this area.

Graeter’s also ships their ice cream, packed in dry ice, all over the country. And for a small group of our clients, we have been known to have Graeter’s send a collection of their best flavors around the holidays as a year-end thank you. This year we scheduled the deliveries for the week prior to Thanksgiving, thinking it was better to be on the early side. 

Some of you on the East Coast may recall that the Friday prior to Thanksgiving was a mess of unexpected winter weather, snarling traffic and transit alike. Among other things that surely went wrong that Friday, a shipment of 12 pints of delicious ice cream got delayed and returned to the UPS hub. By the time they were delivered on Monday, they were fully melted. My client alerted me to this on Monday afternoon.

At 3:03 pm, I sent an e-mail to Graeter’s about the delivery. At 3:11 pm I got an e-mailed reply from a woman in their customer service department, apologizing. At 3:12 pm I got an e-mail from their ordering system that a replacement shipment of my order was scheduled for delivery. So in less than 10 minutes, I got a personal apology and they rectified the issue by completely re-doing my order. It was amazing.

Things go wrong when we are trying to deliver our goods and services. But like much of life, the key is not our actions but our reactions. Graeter’s knows that the key to the corporate gift delivery part of their business is delivering frozen pints of a regional delicacy to anywhere in the country. And even if weather is out of their control, they know that they need to nail the delivery experience to keep people like me sending clients their ice cream. We could all do well to keep the customer’s perspective in mind, and when faced with a project going off the rails, try to address it as decisively and positively as Graeter’s did in this instance.