Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Tale of Two Companies

"Your goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary." - Sam Walton

"It is not the employer who pays the wages.  Employers only handle the money.  It is the customer who pays the wages." - Henry Ford

Customer service.  It's pretty easy to define, isn't it?  After all, we know what a customer is, and we know what service is.  Put the two words together, though, and some business people just completely forget them.

I had two completely opposite experiences today, and the lesson paints a stark picture of what a customer's takeaway from an exchange can be.

The first one was positive.  Very positive, in fact, and it started from a negative.  When I moved into the house we're leasing, the gas company guy couldn't get the water heater's pilot lit.  I called the property manager and he sent someone who once he finally made it to my place (he couldn't make it the first day because he had a court date, a bit of knowledge that left me a little concerned) replaced the thermo-doohickey-whidget.  Yay, I had hot water.

For a day.

I noticed it was out again and called the property manager again, and in the meanwhile he'd figured out that there was a home warranty in effect.  He called the proper company out, and they did what they needed to do to reset the system and relight the pilot.  Yay, I had hot water.

For a few days.  It went out early in the weekend.

I left a message over the weekend, and it took till today for the property manager to get back to me with the appropriate approval information.  The result is a few days of irritatingly chilly showers.  Thus, I was primed for a fight when the service company rep told me they couldn't have anybody out till tomorrow morning or afternoon.  I didn't get one, though.  She apologized for the schedule, put me on it when she could, and promised to see if they could get someone sooner.  She checked and there was a tech in my neighborhood, and he dropped by and got the water heater back up and running within minutes.

Happy Stephen.

It bears pointing out that I had no financial interest, personally, in the transaction; the payment is made by the warranty company to the service company.  This company is specified in the warranty document, so it's not like they needed to please me to keep doing the work.  They could've kept going with their normal scheduling procedure and faced no negative consequence to speak of, and yet instead somebody thought creatively and solved my problem.

Then there's my moving company.

They're already on my bad list.  We'd scheduled a pickup at the old address several weeks ago, with the pickup to occur on the Tuesday or Wednesday after Memorial Day.  They called me that Sunday asking if we could do Thursday instead; it was challenging, but we rearranged what we were doing the rest of the week and called back--yes, we'll do Thursday.  Didn't hear back, so we assumed Thursday was probably it since they'd told me they would call with a schedule once Dispatch had it figured out.  Then they called me Tuesday morning saying a truck was on its way and would be there in an hour.

Grrrr.  What's on first and Who's on second, and neither one is paying attention to the coach.

So then they called me yesterday saying they'd deliver my stuff today between nine and one.  Yay!  I can't get my work done while I'm waiting on our stuff, but at least I'll have furniture again.

When they hadn't shown up by one, though, I called to find out why.  "You did mean nine to one in this time zone, right?"  "The driver will call you right away," the service rep told me, and I believed it as I watched my phone not ring for an hour.  I called back, a little more perturbed this time, and asked her if "right away" meant something different where she was.  She put me on hold for nearly fifteen minutes.

When she got back to me it was to ask who called me yesterday.  Hell, I don't know.  It was a girl, I remember that.  Apparently there wasn't any record of the call, though, and unfortunately my delivery would take place on Thursday, not Tuesday.  So sorry.  See you on Thursday, though, and make sure you take another half-day off of work so you can be there when the truck arrives.

See the difference?  One company, the one I'm not paying anything to directly, responded to my need and went above and beyond to meet it.  The other company, the one I'm paying thousands of dollars to, gave me bad information and blew me off a couple of times when I was trying to check on it.


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