Recently our website home page was wiped clean when the monolith that hosts our business website had technical issues. In the digital world, issues occasionally arise, but when we requested a very simple restore operation (i.e. the placement of a single HTML file: our home page), we were given a ticket number and told that it would be solved in 24 to 48 hours. I don’t know a single business that appreciates being shutdown for a day or two. At 4am we discovered that their problem was fixed, but our website was left in disarray. The promises made to restore our website were forgotten, as well as the promise to notify us when the solution was implemented. In fact, we’re still waiting for the notification. Thank you for a job so poorly executed.
How a company reacts in crisis often reveals its business emphasis: people vs. profit.
The US Review of Books never forgets that it deals with people—most specifically authors who take their books very seriously. Like our web host, the US Review help line is open virtually twenty-four hours per day. On the other hand, we work quickly to resolve issues in an effective manner. Typically it’s a simple misunderstanding or an easy fix. Sometimes it’s a customer who wants specific rewording of their book review and the issue becomes stickier. With any issue, our editors work through a specific set of guidelines to solve the problem as fast as possible and leave the client satisfied. By the way, our web host has never fumbled a billing cycle.
Good customer service involves taking care of the whole as well as the individual.
In the larger picture, the US Review provides professional unbiased book reviews. Our thousands of monthly readers rely on that. To accomplish this, our writers are carefully screened, vetted, and run through a trial review. Like any publication we have a specific style and guidelines. This not only encompasses the summary and critique breakdown of each review, but it includes methods for delivering criticism, which must be aimed at the book—not the author—with clear example and/or focused commentary. Some writers cannot write criticism without being nasty and are quickly shown the door. We have no place for this in our publication. We can make our point without impugning the author.
Focused listening resolves issues.
When an issue arises, there is often subtext to the conversation. At the US Review, our editors understand that the problem isn’t always as stated by the client. While every review we write mentions what the author does well, maybe the author believed that hiring us for a book review automatically returned unfettered praise. Sometimes the author has never had a book reviewed before, which can be startling when insightful third-party examination appears for the first time. From time to time, the author merely desires a different pull quote, which is easy to accommodate. For any issue, the solution is never cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all.
A quick resolution inspires confidence.
Whether it’s an actual issue that needs to be fixed or a need to better understanding the situation, it is our objective to achieve a polite and speedy resolution. When an author is unhappy, our editors are unhappy. When there are no problems on the board, which is most often, our workday is finished. Caring about individual circumstances makes for a healthier publication as a whole. It also creates return customers.
While we hope that issues never arise, entirely smooth sailing is an unrealistic expectation for any business. At the US Review of Books, we understand that the author is as important as the review of his/her book, and we’re willing to stake our reputation on it.