Communicate, Communicate, then review how you Communicate
By: Jeff Sanders
Advance communication can ease lots of woes! Whether with your clients, direct reports, boss, or family members the principle is the same. Informing a party early, often, and accurately of your situation, compromising priorities, or extenuating circumstances can save both parties headache and heartache.
Just this week, I was on the raw end of a lack of communication. With a little effort I think this company could do a lot better and learn something about their customers in the process.
Recently my wife and I made the decision to "cut the cord". Despite having previously experienced, cable provider, Steve’s* sub-par customer service, we found a deal was too good to pass up. Or so we thought...
*names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent.
During purchase process: After discussing price and contracted, the Steve sales rep indicated our installation appointment was set for Monday 1:00-3:00 P.M.
Communication score: Great. Early and (potentially) accurate information of what is expected of me as a customer.
The day/night leading up to our installation: Received several automated calls confirming my installation appointment for Monday between 1:00-5:00 P.M.
Communication Score: Good/ Disappointing. Early and often communication of expectations, however the inaccuracy of the information from the sales rep led me to feel disappointed. As a customer, I felt as if there was a “bait and switch” from a two hour to now a five hour installation window…
Day of installation 1:00 - 5:00 P.M.: Steve’s installation technician never showed.
Communication score: Poor. No calls, no emails, no warning. Not early, not often. On the satirical side, no points off for a lack of accuracy in the communication!
Day of installation 5:45 P.M.: I call Steve Customer Service and was informed the technician arrived at my house at 4:20 P.M. rang the doorbell and called the telephone number on the account.
Communication score: Insulting. The customer service rep insinuated I was lying when I stated no one rang (phone or door). Communication was not early or often as I had to pull for more information. In my eyes, the information being provided was definitely not accurate. For the sake of human error in interpretation or initial input, the customer service rep should be trained to acquiesce to the customer.
Day of installation 6:15 P.M.: I call Steve sales person (referenced above), he then checks and states “the system” indicates a status as if the technician did not show.
Communication score: Miffed! Now I feel like I was lied to on the 5:45 call. If this is the way you treat customers prior to them having your service, what happens a year into the relationship? Early: No; Often: No; Accurate: At this point, who knows!
In summary: This situation has not come to a head quite yet but even through the differing levels of communication success (and failure) a question surfaces… Each time I got on the phone, I was informed that I was “being recorded for quality and training purposes”
Questions: Do you think Steve management and its employees review my or any other similarly troubled accounts on a semi-regular basis in an attempt to identify gaps in customer experience and/or defined processes? What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which define success for installation part of the relationship?
- Duration between sale and install?
- # of calls from customer?
- % of cancellation before installation?
With the host of football games coming on shortly, it makes me think of the hours upon hours these the players and coaches spend in the film room reviewing performance, technique, and team cohesion.
If companies did this even for a fraction of the time, I imagine experiences like the one detailed above would be few and far between. Even if an event were to go awry from the standard processes, appropriate controls would be in place to provide relationship mending/ accurate communication… When? Early and often!