At home and work, we are all consumers of products and packaging. Well-designed packaging looks great, is easy to unpack, and results in minimal packaging waste. Packaging is functioning at it best when not noticed. What was the last remarkable package you opened? Did it leave a positive impression?
Poor packaging stands out when our inability to open the packaging leads to frustration or results in a large amount of waste. Do you remember that frustrating packaging that set you into a rage when you injured yourself while opening up the package? What about the small item that was sent in a huge carton? Chances are, like most people, negative experiences will be remembered more frequently than the remarkable ones.
In his most recent book, “Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results” (2013), Mark Sanborn shares simple, extraordinary customer service lessons learned from his postal carrier. One passage in this book highlighted the impact poor packaging practices on the piece of new export business for an American firm.
“Business consultant David Goldsmith…..tells the story about an American company that had worked for years negotiating a deal to sell laser equipment to a prospective buyer in Japan. As a final step in the negotiations, they were to ship one of the lasers to Japan for a thorough inspection. If it met the Japanese buyer’s strict quality standards – standards that surpassed the US domestic market – the American company would close it’s sale.
When the equipment arrived, it was thoroughly tested and inspected. The laser passed with flying colors, and the sale seemed imminent. But then one of the buyer’s managers caught a glimpse of something in the laser’s packaging that didn’t look quite right.
When he glanced into the shipping carton, he found a shoe print left behind by one of the packagers at the American facility. Since the footprint was on the inside of the box – a surface never exposed during manufacturing process – the manager could only conclude that the footprint had been caused by the American manufacturers sloppiness.
The manager directed his team to repackage the laser into its box, along with the following message: “If you can manage to get a footprint in the box, I can’t image what you might have done to the product”.
The company had to put in another two years of grueling effort, not to mention money, to restore confidence and ultimately complete the sale.”
Packaging is often overlooked by many businesses. This story highlights the impact of poor packaging practices on new business opportunities. Packaging is an opportunity to create a lasting impression with your customers. What does your packaging communicate about your company’s products and level of customer service? Is it compatible with your company’s quality standards and values?
A world class product should have well designed packaging to compliment your products. Leaving footprints at the beach is enjoyable and can lead to wonderful, lasting memories. As highlighted above, footprints on your packaging might communicate something completely different. What impression would you like to leave with your customers?