The Latest Wrinkle in Customer Service – Blame the Customer!

The Latest Wrinkle in Customer Service – Blame the Customer!

Recently, I needed to get a brand new clothes dryer repaired that refused to generate hot air.

I phoned the warranty folks and they told me, because it was Christmas time, I’d have to wait about a week and a half before I could dry my clothes.

When the guy arrived, he scoped out the machine and said I bought the wrong model, they’ve had a lot of trouble with that one, and if I begged the manufacturer, it might replace the unit, altogether.

I told him that wasn’t what I needed. I’d settle for some dry clothes, today.

“Oh, well it seems you need some parts. I’ll order them and let’s set another appointment a week and a half from now.”

“What? You came out here a week late with no parts on the truck?”

“We can’t be expected to stock EVERYTHING on our trucks, you know!”

That is just the kind of baloney, if it goes unchallenged, that keeps people from getting the repairs they need.

At first, it sounds logical.

Customers are hypnotized into thinking, “Trucks are only so large, and these service people must repair a dozen different appliances, so gee, golly, gosh I must be asking a lot to expect them to be able to start and to finish a job the first time out.”

But wait a second. They knew what the problem was long ago, and certainly they had time to get the parts. Don’t they warehouse them, somewhere? Why didn’t they simply put the parts most likely to fix my problem on that specific truck?

Cleverly, this behemoth of a warranty repair company trained its personnel to suggest that a customer has “unreasonable expectations” if he or she believes one appointment should fix their broken appliance.

I know they’ve been trained to say this because I have heard it no fewer than three times from this firm, twice from phone personnel, and once from the guy in the field.

Let’s finish this saga, shall we?

Some parts arrived by mail at my house about four days later, in plenty of time for the next scheduled repair visit, but the company canceled that appointment. Two weeks later, after much complaining on my part, a couple of guys showed up and looked at the machine and determined THE GAS VALVE HAD NOT BEEN TURNED TO THE ‘ON’ POSITION.

For this reason, my clothes hadn’t been drying.

The first guy who they sent out was totally inept and missed this obvious fact, forcing me to commute to a functioning dryer miles away from home, for the better part of a month, every time I needed clean clothes.

After that repair, the brand new companion washer broke. I was blamed for having left a small sock in the machine which it chewed and swallowed but couldn’t completely digest. The repairman claimed he was “doing me a favor” by not charging me for something that really isn’t covered under warranty.

Last week, I was contacted by the same outfit and asked if I want to purchase an extended warranty.

They have to be kidding.

I don’t need to be blamed or to hear weak alibis every time I need customer service.

There are three rules that manufacturers and their service fleets should obey:

(1) Build products that don’t break in normal use.

(2) If your products break, fix them fast, without complaint. Build the proper infrastructure to make that possible. Stock your trucks with the parts relevant to each repair order, thus maximizing the odds that you’ll deliver one-call satisfaction.

(3) Never, ever blame customers. They’re not broken; it’s your products, personnel, and processes that require repairs.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books and more than a thousand articles. His seminars and training programs are sponsored internationally and he is a top-rated faculty member at more than 40 universities, including UCLA Extension, where he has taught since 1999. Dynamic, experienced, and lots of fun, Gary brings more than two decades of solid management and consulting experience to the table, along with the best academic preparation and credentials in the speaking and training industry. custom socks manufacturer

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