Mistakes happen but Passion goes a long way
In business, and especially a start-up business, the most powerful weapon you can have is passion. The foundations of Kollect are built on passion, for customer satisfaction and for self-improvement. It’s very easy to spot the businesses that are not fuelled by passion. – they’re usually the ones that don’t care if they let you down – even if you’re falling over yourself trying to give them your custom.
Co-Founder of Kollect, John O’Connor, talks this week about passion and how it can overcome almost anything, including naive mistakes.
“Even today, I’m not afraid to admit that we are making mistakes daily, although less and less” John said. “We always. wanted to provide a customer service that would make people stop in their tracks and think “wow – I actually felt like that company cared about me there”. We wanted, and to be honest, we’ll never stop wanting, to make our customers feel special. Consequently, at the beginning, we (and our waste partners) collected people’s extra bags for free – you know the ones that people sometimes leave beside their wheelie bins? We wanted to collect them because we knew that some weeks are busier than others.”
Unfortunately, that cost them us a fortune (and the council don’t allow it) but it wasn’t for their passion to do better, it could easily have been the end of Kollect before it ever got a chance to begin.
“We soon realised that we couldn’t do that every week, even though we still take them when we know that it’s a one-off for a customer,” John explained. “The point is, that was a mistake – albeit with the customer’s best interests at heart. We are unashamedly passionate about what we do, how we do it and who we do it for. We know we’re not the biggest company in the land but – and I’m going to sound cheesy here – that doesn’t matter to us as long as we know that our customers are telling their friends and their family that they had a good experience with us.”
John knows that mistakes will happen, and customers know that mistakes can happen, but it’s how you react to them that counts.
“When we mess up, we admit it, and we fix it,” he said. “Right now we are growing so quickly that we are making more mistakes than usual. New staff each week and growing pains associated with this is causing some customers disruption and this genuinely upsets us. I’ve seen people from the office in tears because they have let down a customer. I’ve seen them taking work home with them and going above and beyond to keep a promise to a customer. If that’s not passion for customer service, then I don’t know what is.”
At Kollect, passion means a lot of things, but it mostly means making things right,
“We have daily meetings and go over what we did wrong the previous day,” John said. “Every Friday, we contact a customer that we have let down in some way – even if it was the tiniest thing (we’ve had customers say “oh would you go way out of that…it’s fine!” – it’s not fine!) and we make sure that we have righted that particular wrong. We listen to your feedback and we genuinely act on it.”
You know when you forget to put your bin out and Kollect reschedule at no extra cost? That’s passion. You know when they put your bin back where it’s supposed to be and not in the middle of the road or in your driveway obstructing your car, that’s passion too.
“We care a lot about doing the right thing by our customers, and I really hope that shows. ” John concluded.