Intention is Fine but Where’s the Service?

You are going to have to indulge me for a moment because the following service breakdown story may initially seem like I’m venting but it is presented to highlights how “good service intentions” just don’t cut it .

For me things did not start off well with a new utilities provider.  When I called to have a natural gas tank filled they told me they would “try to come out” later in the week. Try as they might – they never showed up.  I called up to set-up a new appointment and they said “they had nothing for the upcoming week but would call me back in a couple of days to set something up.” A couple of weeks later, I realized they hadn’t called so I contacted them yet again.  Upon telling the call center staff person  that I just “want the company to send someone else to provide service” she told me how my service request had “come at a very busy time for her company.”  I did feel bad for them but would have rather her had her acknowledge her company’s shortcomings and make some effort to apologize for all the effort she was requiring a customer to expend.  Ultimately,  a technician came out and did a satisfactory job executing the service transaction.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call asking me to evaluate the company’s service.  Phew, finally someone actually wanted me to tell them about my experience! In the case of my service challenged utility provider, the person initiating the call seemed most interested in getting the perfunctory survey completed than actually hearing honest feedback. The caller jumped right in to the first of two Yes/No questions, “Are you satisfied with your service to date?”  To which I said, “No not particularly.” She then proceeded to ask “would I refer the utility company to a family member or friend?”  Well you probably can guess where I went with that one. Why call me at all?

I am sure the idea of a survey reflected a well-intentioned inquiry but when such processes lack fail to execution they can backfire and further erode trust and respect from customers.   I am so grateful to my utility company for the reverse education they provided me.  As a result of their example,  I have tasked myself and my staff to look at our execution against our intentions across every business process that touches our customers.  I can’t have my customers feeling the way I do about my utility company.

Are any of your business processes well-intentioned but missing the mark with your customers – possibly resulting in tension and distrust?

Since I’m on the topic of trust you will want to check-out tomorrow’s guest blog by Mike Figliuolo, the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful Personal Leadership.  Mike will offer important lessons on how to garner trust as a leader.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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