Some customers just seem to attract problems. It's Murphy's Law, says Neil Cannon, CEO of Schmidt-Cannon, a $15-milliondistributor of promotional items, in City of Industry, Calif. If something goes wrong with their order once, something will gowrong with it twice.

To minimize cases of double errors, Schmidt-Cannon's staff developed a system to track orders from customers withpast problems. Whenever the company receives a complaint, that customer's next order is placed in a red file to alert the staffto take extra care. When the folder passes through each department, the manager signs off on it personally. If a problem arises,it's the manager who takes responsibility, talking directly with the customer.

In the first three years after the system was put in place, the incidence of repeat complaints dropped noticeably, reports Cannon.At that time, the company was processing about 6,000 orders per month. "We do everything we can to make sure customers arehappy," says Cannon. "This way, we can be pretty positive that we've done our job."

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