I have seen this too many times…
What is one of the easiest thing we can all do improve our results for all our stake holders (clients, team, vendors, principles, & community)? For the answer, I am going to tell you a story.
The back story is I have a vacation house a couple hours away from home in the rural mountains of Western PA. The house has a hot tub and one of the pumps was leaking. I contacted the manufacturer that sold it to us and they diagnosed the problem, sent out the warranty parts, and gave us the name of a local company (an hour and 15 minutes away) that would install the parts. I would pay them for their travel time and service. Awesome, I am in. And this is where my journey began.
I contacted the service company who came highly recommended from the manufacturer. I spoke with a very nice woman (Amy) who, after I explained my request and sent her over the parts list and notes from the manufacturer, said they would be able to help me. I explained that I did not live at the house where the hot tub was and would need to arrange to be there, so I would like to schedule the appointment in the future and gave her some dates. This was in early November. She told me she would check and get back to me. I emailed Amy a couple times for an update, crickets. Three weeks go by and all my available dates pass, I call Amy and she says “opps, sorry, how about tomorrow?”. No can do, how about these dates in December? After a few emails, she sends me back “how about December 8th, first thing?”. Perfect I reply, however, I get no final confirmation. The day before the appointment, I call them again and ask for Amy. A gentleman (Ian) answers the phone and when I ask for Amy am told she is off, can he help? I explain the situation and he says, “why were you talking to Amy?” Really?? He says he has to check with the tech and will get right back to me. Having not heard back, I call Ian back two hours later and got their answering machine. I call again another hour later and Ian says they can still do it on the 8th. I ask about the appointment being first thing and he says yes. I ask what first thing means, and he says they have a 7:30am tech meeting and the tech should be on his way before 8am and at my house around 9am. Great, I decide to head up the night before to be there and meet him 9am. At 5 minutes to 9am on the 8th, the tech (Justin) calls me. I am expecting him to be close and calling for directions, not so, he tells me he is just packing up and will be at my house around 10:15am. I am super frustrated at this point, but desperate. I have a 3:30pm meeting back in Pittsburgh and need to be on my way back at 1pm, will he have enough time? I decide to stay the course, but I am really sour on the whole experience. Justin arrives at 10:15am. He introduces himself and asks what I would like him to do! Really?? Then the whole experience started to turn around. Once I explained everything to him and showed him the parts, he proved a very thorough and pleasant tech. He did exactly what I needed him to do, plus a few extras and was a rock solid representative for the company. In the end, I got what I needed done and am happy, sort of.
So what happened and where is the opportunity? This company failed miserably at the super easy things and did the hard part very well. They failed to clearly communicate internally and externally, and to set and meet expectations. What they did great was deliver the service. The problem was I was in a frustrated (closer to foul) mood when Justin finally showed up. It took me a month and a half of frustration to get to the point of getting the actual service delivered. Fortunately, the service was very good (could go on about how to make it great, but I will save that for another time), imagine if the service was below par.