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The Zeppelin List & Learning From My Mistakes

Guidance for projects

I make mistakes every single day.

Sometimes I make the same mistake again and again, even on the same day, which is annoying. But, I seem to be adept at reviewing my behaviour and my actions and finding a way to correct course.

About 18 months ago, I started to keep a little notebook where I would note down my mistakes, with the idea being that by writing them down I could go over them again. I hoped that they would stick so that I wouldn't make those mistakes again. Every now and then, I'd go to the notebook and review the mistakes.

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One step further

In preparing this newsletter on making mistakes, I've also taken the notebook concept one step further, wherein I've now got a template.

 

1) Acknowledge the mistake
 
2) Questions to ask
 

• What went wrong?

• What could I do better next time?

• What did I learn from this?

 
3) Why don't you want to make that mistake again?
 
4) What's the plan?

 

Reviewing mistakes, finding out what went wrong, and taking corrective action is a massive area of our business. 

 

We have just introduced free access for all schools!

This move was inspired by news articles like this and also hearing the same sort of story locally where we live.

We see surplus stationery and educational equipment everyday on a massive scale so we think making this move is actually a duty of ours to take advantage of the power of our network.

We used to charge £50 for schools for the year to access the network.

This was a mistake- we do not charge charity- but we were charging schools. 

This wasn't sitting well with us so we have dropped this to remove the financial barrier and give schools free access.

 

 

Zeppelin List?!

We want our customers to become evangelists for our system.

We want to give a great product,  support and customer service that means our customers are actually evangelistic about our services so that they tell all their colleagues and they tell all their friends.

So, every week, we download a spreadsheet and we work through it we call it the Zeppelin list. And why do we call it the Zeppelin list?

 

We will explain that, and more, in the rest of this article.

In the first few years of this operation it was just me- Daniel- doing everything. 

In the early days, we used to lose nearly 50% of our customers after the first 12 months, which is really bad. To lose a customer after the first twelve months, it’s a huge loss.

 

 

Half of Warp It customers...

So, in our first couple of years of activity, we realised we were losing half our customers because of various reasons. So, we had a good long think.

I used to be the guy who did everything!! Once we sold the software,  I'd kind of just assume that the customer could get this product up and running on their own. Big mistake. 

Everybody's doing two or three jobs, spinning lots and lots of different plates, and setting up a new system in an organisation requires a bit of focus, first of all, a little bit of technical knowledge, but most of all it requires a system change, a behaviour change, and a policy change. That's quite a battle. And I was leaving our customers to fight that battle on their own.

 

 

So, what could we do to help?

The first answer was that we needed to give them more support. So we introduced a new support package whereby when a customer signs up they get really intensive hand holding during the setup phase, and that might entail a catch up call every day sometimes, but mostly it takes the form of a bimonthly, monthly or fortnightly catch-up call. See here.

 

Handing it over

At the start, to get them up and running successfully, we try and keep it to one call every 2 weeks. When the customer is ready, it goes down to every month, then two and then three months.

We usually then keep it at quarterly catch ups unless the customer requests less.

This works really well for them, but how do we keep measuring their performance if we are not talking regularly?

At the start of each month we download our list of customers and their performance and go through each one to see where we can help. We then use this information in our regular catch up calls. 

 

We have so many extra resources and ways to be helpful, and we need our members to know that we are here for them, especially any who are struggling. 

 

This is the Zeppelin List.

And why do we call it the Zeppelin list? Because it's the stairway to Heaven. (Led Zeppelin right?!)

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So we are working solidly, trying to get all of our customers evangelists for our service.

You can imagine over time how this monthly review of customer performance has actually moved more and more customers in that direction.

This is just one example of how reviewing when things go wrong can lead to better processes.

So, what’s the first thing you should do when something goes wrong or when someone makes a mistake or when something unexpected happens? You should be asking ‘Why did this happen? What was the impact? What would you do differently next time?’ And you get that in your personal procedures and your business procedures.

This is a recipe for success.


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About the Author..

Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

My goal is where reuse & repair is so convenient and desirable, that organisations do not throw anything away or buy anything new.. Where reusable items are redistributed for their 2nd and 3rd useful lives and when the items fail, they are diverted into repair.

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