I want to take some time to talk about what happens when things don’t go as planned. When things go wrong, those of us in the integration and service provider realm work really hard to deliver on 99% uptime SLAs and success rates. We invest money in systems, processes, and people to provide 99% guarantees.
However, what’s not talked about is what we do during that 1% when things don’t go right. When we screw up, something breaks, a piece of equipment doesn’t show up on time, an issue reoccurs, or the ball gets dropped. As much as we try to prevent these things from happening with quality control processes and intelligent and hard-working people, they still do.
I’ve always believed that a person’s true nature isn’t fully known when things are going well. You see their true nature when things don’t go as planned. And I think that’s true for companies as well. It’s easy to look good when things are going well. But when a customer needs you to step up because one thing or another is heading south, that is your opportunity to shine. It is the best way to demonstrate what sets you apart from other companies.
A Note on My Background
I suspect a blog topic about “what we do when we screw up” isn’t a very well-covered topic amongst the service provider/systems integration community. I could write pages about our customer retention rate, lengthy client tenure, repeat business, customer satisfaction scores, uptimes, awards, recognition, etc., and it would all be true. But it just seems too easy and self-serving to do that. Besides, no one ever asks or wonders, “what it’s like when everything is going well around here?” I think people are more interested in “what are you going to do when the shit hits the fan?”
Perhaps it was my background serving in the US Navy on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that helped me develop a particular acumen for what to do when the shit hits the fan. When you are working in a nuclear power plant on an aircraft carrier flying live flight operations in the Persian Gulf, the way you handle yourself when shit hits the fan could quite literally be a life-or-death situation. When the ship was deployed, we were constantly running drills and simulations of fires, floods, explosions, radiological accidents, vital equipment failure, biological attacks, and other catastrophic events. We formed casualty assistance teams (CAT), and those teams, along with those on watch, responded to the drills or real-life situations.
We weren’t judged by how well we kept vital equipment running during steady-state operations. Instead, we were judged on how we handled the emergencies and how fast and efficiently we averted the incident and restored things to normal. Then, after the drill or a real-world situation, we always held a major debrief to discuss what went wrong, how we fixed it, and how to prevent it from happening again.
How We Apply It to Applied Global Technologies
Most of what we do here at Applied Global Technologies isn’t life or death. Still, we do have clients in the military and DoD, federal and state government agencies, corrections facilities, and hospitals. Many times, video conferencing or audio-visual equipment directly supports a mission-critical situation in these environments. And in less extreme environments, it can still be a vital part of the communications infrastructure. So, when things go wrong, and it causes an emergency for our customers, we take it very seriously.
Like those days on the ship, our priority is to jump into action, not finger point, avoid responsibility, shift blame, minimize the issue, or weasel out on some contractual technicality. We take ownership and responsibility for the problem, and then our priority is to immediately identify the problem, fix it, and quickly restore things to how they should be. After we fix the issue, we analyze what went wrong, who did what, how it happened, and how we prevent it from happening again. When it’s all said and done, we review our findings with the customer, including end-users, bosses, and bosses of bosses — whomever we need to take ownership of the situation and explain how we will do better going forward.
AGT: Keeping Your Company Successful
To me, that says so much about the character of our people and our company. Not that we can take victory laps when things are easy, but that we stand behind our ability to own the problem, fix it, and never repeat it. That’s what inspired our client commitment, which is, “We’re never done with a project until you are 100% satisfied.”
This is a commitment that we take very seriously. One that has been ingrained in the DNA of this company since it was founded in 1993. Every talented and motivated member of our team stands behind our commitment 100%. Feel free to contact us to learn more about our serves and work with one of our dedicated team members.
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