In the words of a frustrated business and homeowner, where have all of the conscientious service people gone?
Granted, they probably have been missing all along, it’s just now that I need them, they still are nowhere to be found.
I wrote about this long ago—how important it is to provide excellent customer service to your clients. I have even represented clients who have made a living counseling big companies on what service is, and how to promote the practice of excellence among their employees. Recently, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve observed, so I’m going to go off the blog’s topic for a bit to share a couple of stories with you.
I have computers in my office. No big deal, right? Well, in smaller businesses we don’t have the luxury of calling up the IT department to come fix a problem—we have to find a reliable contractor or do it ourselves. I finally found the time to get a “professional” in to set up a network, cloud drive, backup systems, and the like. Did he come on time? Yes, he sent a tech over at the assigned time. Did he know what he was doing? I’m not sure. Did he have a fight with the tech in the office over what solution he should employ to fix my problems? Oh, yes. Did said tech call me later to try and get my business, thereby undercutting the “friend” and contractor I originally hired? Yes he did. Did my problem get fixed? Yes, after three days, and although the fight and pursuant phone call from the tech were a bit uncomfortable, I was charged under the original agreement even though it took twice the time (no doubt in part because of in fighting among personnel).
At home, I have a dog. She’s my first dog ever, and I love her to bits. However, she runs like the wind and needed an electric fence to keep her penned in before the town dog catcher found her miles from my house. I fell victim to a direct mail coupon and called that company to ask what I would need to do to get the fence I already had up and working. They sent a person over a couple of weeks later and basically they upgraded my system and implemented their technology in place of the old that had probably been at the house since the early 2000s. Then came the training portion of the deal, which was very pricey, but knowing that I am a newbie when it comes to dogs, I felt that it would be prudent to have the professionals guide me in the process.
The first guy who fixed my system walked me through the initial training session which is all about getting your dog used to the flags that indicate where the fencing is. Fine. The second guy came about a week later and obviously had a different style, in fact he was a bit disappointed in trainer #1 who had not given me a proper leash, and maybe wasn’t as effective as he could have been. Okay. The second training was about luring the dog to get “shocked” by the collar and then calming her down. A negative response system they call “The Correction”. The third day came and the guy who had come on day 1 appeared with a colleague along for the ride. He wasn’t particularly impressed with what trainer #2 had done and made it clear that it would have been better to do things a bit differently. Well, to make it short, they let the dog go and she saw her “boyfriend” next door on his lawn; she bolted; was zapped profusely; and came crying back to our yard. Oh my goodness was the trainer unhappy about this. He must have said at least four times “I wish I had known that other dog was out there”; “That wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen”; etc.
For my part I thought it worked perfectly, but I could tell that Katie (my dog) and I had disappointed him. He left shortly thereafter and alas, that was my third and final session. So $400+ later I was left feeling a big deflated by the training process and vowed to follow the rules left by the company. Then my husband said one night, “I would just let her run around and figure it out”, and I said “Me too.” That’s what we did and slowly she is figuring out what her boundaries are.
Dog trainers and tech support throwing each other under the bus in front of a customer? Overpaying for training during for which you, the customer, are chastised and left feeling like you didn’t get the proper instruction for your money? What is that all about?
I won’t go into the many calls I make to contractors that don’t get returned. Or the people who come out for estimates and then I call back to start work and they never resurface. It goes on and on. Back to business, I’ve been told by media people that publicists don’t return their calls, and that is just unfathomable to me. I mean, we spend our days trying to get a returned email or call with expressed interest—to have someone call me and not call back?
All I can say is, service is in part about manners and respect. If you don’t respect your customers then you really should do something else. I’ll keep getting things fixed, installed, up-to-speed, and will consider every strange or unpleasant experience one to learn from. I will treasure the ones that go well, and I will keep those businesses on speed dial.