For some reason I think I have “tell me about your company” written on my forehead.  Soon after I meet people and tell them what I do for a living, they feel compelled to pour their souls out to me about their jobs or businesses. I’m not sure if it’s a method of crying out for help or if my demeanor is too serious for talk about the weather or what one ate for lunch. Be that as it may, I am glad people feel comfortable telling me their stories—it makes for great book-writing material.

Some time ago, I was working out in the gym alongside a guy who appeared to be in the same predicament as I. Namely, deciding whether to just stare at the weights and hope that they lifted themselves out of the cradle, pick up the weights and start working out, or go to the store and have a low-fat doughnut.

This guy, who was named Kelvin, seemed to be in his mid-twenties. After finally picking up the weights and completing a few sets, Kelvin started to ask the gym ego question, “How much can you lift?”

Not your average gym rat, my reply was: “So where do you work?”

Kelvin told me he worked at a very well-known home do-it-yourself (DIY) store that I’ll call “House Headquarters.” I didn’t hesitate to mention to Kelvin that I thought House Headquarters’ customer service had gone downhill in recent years and their chief competitor had become much better at customer service than they.

“I agree, our customer service is shabby,” Kelvin said, exhaling mightily while 75-pound dumbbells slammed to the gym’s cushioned floor. “I’ll tell you a story.

“I was recently working with a customer who became extremely upset with us. This customer purchased a brand name, side-by-side, built-in refrigerator for almost $8,000. Once it was delivered, he called back, stating that the install had a gap in between the walls and the refrigerator of about three inches, whereas the model in the store was flush together. He was right. This refrigerator has a true built-in appearance and looks very flush with the wall in the store. I told him I’d look into it.

“So I called the regional installation supervisor, and he said he would check out the situation,” Kelvin said, his arms shaking from the heavy dumbbell. (There goes my gym ego again.) “You know, we always have problems and complaints with this installer, but we still have to use them because they’re our national contractor. I don’t know what’s going to happen with this customer, but I feel really badly for him.

“I sent the installer back out on Saturday,” Kelvin continued. “But I won’t be able to get back with the customer until Monday because I have to see what the regional installation supervisor, who doesn’t work on weekends, says. The customer sent me pictures of the install, and it is really bad. I just don’t know why we keep using this installer. We’ve all gotten complaints about this particular installation company.”

The lesson here: The entire organization needs to be focused on providing a World-Class customer service experience. I would think that someone should have been in contact with this customer throughout the weekend to ensure that his problem was solved. House Headquarters likely does a large chunk of their business on the weekend, as this is when people are doing home projects. This type of weekend service is even more important for a customer who has just spent a lot of money with the company.

The quicker you solve the problem, the greater the opportunity for making the customer happy and keeping him or her coming back. If the front line is not empowered or it does not have immediate access to someone who is empowered (as in Kelvin’s case) to provide an instant solution to the problem, the problem will remain with the customer longer and fester into something greater and cause him or her to be even more dissatisfied with the experience.

Question: Is this just an isolated incident for House Headquarters, or is my view and the employee’s view true, that their customer service is substandard? Is it really impossible for Kelvin or his colleagues to provide a good customer experience with an incompetent contractor? A review by the leadership team is in order.

Kelvin seems to have been focused on delivering a good customer experience—his heart was indeed as big as the biceps that we both aspired to have after working out (yes, I am still aspiring as I sit here explaining Fresh Customer Service). However, the weekend unavailability of the regional installation supervisor made it impossible to deliver a World-Class customer service experience.

The regional installation supervisor’s availability—or a designee’s—would have provided Kelvin with the important missing link needed to deliver an instant solution to the customer’s problem (remember this is the foundation of Fresh Customer Service—solving the problem now, making it right now for the customer).

In addition, the person in charge of the independent contractors appears to have not responded to the negative feedback voiced by both customers and Frontline Employees. After all, it seems that this shoddy contractor is the root cause of current and previous problems.


For leadership coachingprofessional development training, customer service trainingcustomer service tips, college success tips, or to learn how to build a personal brand, how to improve customer service, or  how to succeed in college, contact Michael D Brown, a premier leadership speaker, customer service speaker, and college motivational speaker at http://www.myfreshbrand.com, http://www.freshcustomerservice.com, or http://www.52collegesuccesstips.com.

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