OPEN-MINDEDNESS OPENS ALL!
Written by my friend, Ray Si
“三人行，必有我师焉。择其善者而从之，其不善者而改之。” — 孔子
“Anyone may be regarded as my tutor. I’ll follow him for the merits and remind me of the demerits.” —- Confucius
It is natural for a buyer to ignore her rejected supplier, but as an exception, I got a big hello once.
It was a boring summer day and I was searching for potential buyers worldwide through the Internet in the office. I knew I had to be patient enough to hunt for buyers, as China-made fashion jewelry and wigs continue to sprawl robustly all over the world. Then suddenly a notice flickered at the right-bottom corner of the screen. In excitement I clicked it and found it was a new client from Germany by the name of Gabriele. I opened the mail but was confused. It was not a request for more details, nor a bargain, but an apology. Have you ever heard customers offer an apology to an unknown salesperson? Hardly if ever.
Let me take you back to the beginning. Gabriele is a German jewelry designer and she made an inquiry on Alibaba asking suppliers to quote a price for fashion jewelry in a dove design, also wanting photos of our design. My manufacturer partner had no ready-made photos but he quoted a rough price. Transferring RMB into USD, I uploaded the quotation. A couple of days later, Gabriele wrote the email to thank me for my reply and to say sorry for not doing business with me, as she had selected someone else.
In the following week, though feeling a bit sorry, I was high-spirited. I searched hard for the right words and finally finished my thank-you email to her, in which I called her courteous, saying “…a warm refusal better than an order.” Around ten minutes after sending, she replied to thank me and hoped to collaborate with me on another project in the future. In my email about an hour later, I told her about my love from childhood for German culture, mainly shown from the 100-year old German architecture in the city I was born in and am living – Qingdao. It was not long before she sent back some photos of the renovated historic architecture in her city – Aachen, such as Aachen Cathedral. It was a lovely e-talk in a lovely day with lovely pictures and it made my day.
Now when I want to continue the lovely communication, I abruptly find my great mistake – I have not kept her information at hand. Why not trace my email box, you might ask? Well, I can’t and you’ll know why later.
The respect I got from Gabriele has made me realize the buyer-seller relationship should not be limited in making money. This is my Lesson One. In the following Lesson Two, I learn “Be Honest With Your Customer”.
Maggie is an American lady in the wig business. It was said she had bought some wigs from our company and I believed it, as I got her order unbelievably easy. On my way home that day, she called my cell phone and asked why I didn’t reply her inquiry. I was amused at my good luck. I thanked her kindness first and explained I did not get an email from her. She said she would send it again, to my own company mailbox this time. I promised her I would reply as soon as possible. Through a couple of come-and-go emails, I understood her requirements about length, color, texture and ethnic hair. Then I asked our Director if we had the wigs in stock. He told me that we did. Then I wrote to Maggie to confirm the product description, price and delivery time. I also promised her the quality and the arrival date. She paid at once, without any hesitation.
When the wigs arrived in my office, I was hesitant and even unhappy after I measured the length. One wig was 22 inches long and the other was below 20 inches. I came to my Director with the two wigs and the ruler. He measured them for strands first then shook his head. He explained the qualified long one was our stock while the short one was bought from another manufacturer. Why was it short though? Its measurement standard was unlike ours – from top to the bottom of each strand, but from head spin to the bottom. Besides, it was hard to be equally long for hand-made products, a sort of reasonable tolerance, he said.
“What about sending the qualified one only and returned the short one?” I suggested.
“I know Maggie for years. The wig will be okay for her. Believe me. Send it. No problem.”
I kept silent for a moment then came back doubtfully and unwillingly. When I was preparing the delivery, I felt disappointed and even guilty.
If Gabriele’s behaviors increased my love for the job, I have to say the Director’s attitude decreased it and I left the company soon after, partly because of his theory. Since I’m an outsider of the company now, my previous working mailbox has been blocked to me. That’s why I can’t connect with Gabriele.
Do I still love the job? Sure, I expect to meet more Gabriele’s in the world and to help the Maggie’s of the world more effectively.
Here, with the help of the article, I do hope I can find Gabriele to tell her that my idea of Open-Mindedness Opens All originates from her. As to Director, also one of my tutors, I sincerely hope he reconsiders Maggie’s case, as I believe it may help him harvest more clients and more happiness.
You can contact Ray Si at ray <firstname.lastname@example.org>