What Should a Supplier Do When Quality Issues Arise?

In early June, 2024,one of the containers we shipped had a quality issue. I’ve been occupied with resolving this problem, but today I have some free time to share how we, as suppliers, should handle such situations.

The problem with our container stemmed from some cartons getting wet in the rain, causing them to become damp. Coupled with the hot and humid conditions inside the shipping container during the summer, this resulted in the cartons becoming moldy and subsequently affecting the products inside. We feel deeply ashamed of this, as it was a quality issue caused by our mishandling. We can only imagine the frustration and disappointment our customer felt upon opening the container. Naturally, they sent us numerous messages and photos via WhatsApp. We completely understand their emotions and concerns.

As their supplier, the first step we did were respond promptly. Here is the first message we sent them:

We completely agree that sending damp and moldy goods is unacceptable. When we loaded the cartons, there was no sign of mold. Therefore, we planned to send new cartons later to make it easier for you to replace any damaged ones. We did not anticipate that mold would develop over time. Regardless, we are very sorry, and we will actively communicate to resolve this issue.

After receiving our response, We noticed a significant change in the customer’s attitude. At this point, neither the customer nor we could change the fact that the cartons and products were already damp. The only thing we could do was address the issue.

The second step in our communication was to commit to taking responsibility. We informed the customer that if the quality issue was caused by our company, we would take full responsibility, assuring them that we are a trustworthy company. The customer then requested a formal email from us, stating our willingness to compensate for all quality issues.

Given that the exact quantity of affected products was not yet determined, we asked the customer to count and verify the quantity and inform us of the specific numbers. The customer mentioned that it would take time to organize and count. We understood their concerns, so we emphasized again that we fully understand the situation and that our company would maintain communication with them at all times, regardless of how long it takes. We reassured them that we would take responsibility for the quality issues and encouraged them to proceed with their sales and come back to us when they had the data.

The third step is to follow through on our promises. Problems are not frightening; what is frightening is refusing to take responsibility after a problem arises. I believe that customers are willing to forgive someone who makes mistakes but sincerely corrects them, but they will not forgive someone who makes excuses and shifts blame. Every mistake is an opportunity for improvement. I believe this will be just a minor hurdle on our company’s path to growth. Therefore, we should put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and consider the losses and inconveniences we have caused them, which will help us make amends.


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