Lisa Bergson writes about why the sense of urgency around customer service has declined at her company. With respect to a part problem she writes:
"This should be the top priority, every minute, for quality-control and purchasing," I rail. Instead, my guys were waiting for the maker of the defective part to devise a solution, and waiting for the alternative supplier to give us drawings, and then waiting for engineering to evaluate the options. Meanwhile, our major multinational customers are not inclined to wait. "Remember, customers don't have to come to us," I admonish. "We're too small to survive against the competition unless we provide excellent service. We have to step and fetch!"
In the end, she makes a good point about why this is so important.
Between pride, poor leadership, and low moral, as an organization, we have failed to face customer service issues. If we're unable to identify and put first things first, we deserve to get left behind. The market will take its own corrective action.
Customers don't want excuses. Take responsibility, and be up front with them. They will appreciate your honesty.