The first time I opened a piece of my own marketing campaign mail more than twenty years ago, I was astonished to find the letter inside was glued to the inside flap and as a result came out in tatters from the envelope. After I tried and failed to open the letter without tearing the piece into bitty sections, I just went at it until the thing was lying across my desk like a crossword puzzle.
Thing is, the coupons attached were in sections too. I was horrified because the procedures for accepting the coupons was to have the customer hand the entire letter with coupons attached to the Player’s Club to be able to acquire their $5 in coin and $5 in food credit. It said it right on the coupon.
I glanced down at the scattered micro-perforated mess and immediately hurried to the Player’s Club to make sure the representatives took the coupons no matter how they came into the counter. Oh my! The line of guests extended for a hundred feet and every one of them had some kind of abnormal untidy heap of baffling print tangled rag in their palms.
They all looked confused, but more importantly angry. Instead of throwing my hands up, quitting my job and running to the nearest pub, I decided to call in every slot attendant I could get my hands on and give them directions on making our customers feel at ease. Each one of our guests were told we would honor every coupon and I ran upstairs and created a sign to post at the casino entrance and the player’s club that we would handle their bewilderment without argument.
The next two weeks went fairly smoothly and we actually had comments that the staff had done a fantastic job in the presence of catastrophe. The GM gave me a pat on the back and then told me to fire the mailing house, but I had already communicated my frustration to the company and they gave me a credit on the next mailing. Apparently, the auto-letter stuffer had just been cleaned and the equipment malfunctioned that added the minute amount of moisture needed to seal the flap. Instead, the amount ended up being about a tablespoon and was not caught by handlers at the end of the line who were wearing gloves to protect their hands from paper cuts.
More than ten thousand letters were ruined, but a lesson was learned. Always be prepared for anything happening and think through the confusion to the solution that ultimately makes the customer happy.