October 23, 2009

This is my life

I visited a customer this week who is having trouble with my widgets. They are getting reports of field failures. My customer sent some failed product back for evaluation and the widgets failed for lack of lubrication. Most of you understand that metal on metal without lube is a short-lived situation.

My customer admits they were not assembling and lubricating the widgets according to recommended practice. Let me make this clear -- the widgets are failing because the manufacturer assembled them wrong. Now the end user is very concerned about buying products with my widgets. We will have to undergo an audit at our plant and several end user visits to convince the end user we are a quality widget. It will not matter because it is our widgets that keep failing, while our competitor does not when they replace my product in the field.

The competitor product does not fail because the end user follows proper procedures when he reinstalls the competitor's widgets.

I am likely going to lose a significant amount of business because the end user is roughly 40% of my customer's customer base. My customer will not admit to the end user they have no idea how to assemble their product. If I tell the end user my customer is an idiot, I will lose the business.

My company is going to spend thousands of dollars to convince an end user we make a good product. He will only believe what he sees -- our products keep failing. When he demands the supplier (my customer) switch to the competitor, there will be no more failures since my customer is now following proper assembly procedures. The problem will stop and all will accept that it was switching widget suppliers that solved the problem. The real solution was my customer began to assemble the parts correctly.

Some days I hate my life.

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