The Fortress of Solitude: When something goes wrong, how do you make it right?

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We recently mailed a postcard to several thousand clients and contacts in our marketing database. If you got one, you may have noticed something a little unusual.

Oops! Someone at the mailing house goofed. Maybe they were tired or rushed. In any case, they failed to notice the phrase “Fortress of Solitude” on the address line – a remnant from a previous job for DC Comics.

A pyramid of ice - the fortress of solitude

According to Wikipedia, the Fortress of Solitude is “A place of solace and occasional headquarters for Superman, the fortress is typically depicted as being in frozen tundra, away from civilization.”

Mistakes can happen in any business, whether you are a mailing house, a restaurant, or a landscaping contractor. This incident got us thinking: when something goes wrong, how do you make it right? Here’s what worked for us.

Stay Calm

In this case everyone kept their cool: no freaking out, no yelling. We called the printer, explained the situation, and asked for his help.

Get the Facts

Step one was to figure out what happened and why. The purpose wasn’t to assign blame, we just needed to assess the situation so we could figure out what to do.

Make sure it doesn’t happen again

We agreed that in the future, both the printer and our marketing team will always see a proof of the mailing imprint. This will give us more chances to notice when something is amiss.

Assess the damage

In this case, we received one phone call from a client who was offended. But when we explained what happened, she understood completely. We determined that the damage was minimal. How many people even noticed? And if they did, would they care? Or would they just think, “That’s weird.”

Discuss the options

What should we do about this mishap? The mailing house quickly agreed to “comp” their services. The printer was willing to cover the cost of sending a postcard that would explain what happened to our clients. He even offered to pay for the postage. “I’ll do whatever I have to because the relationship is important to me,” he said. “But I do hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Choose a reasonable remedy

Since the damage wasn’t too serious, we decided another mailing wasn’t necessary and would be too much of a hardship for our printer (who has always been a reliable business partner). Instead, we accepted the credit from the mailing house. If anyone asks, our staff is prepared to explain what happened. And we decided to write a blog post to share the story.

We’d like to thank our printer, Paul Rippe of Rippe Print. When things go wrong it’s nice to have a partner who is willing to make things right.

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