September 16, 2008

Providing Exellent Customer Service

You may remember me writing recently about employees who seem to sometimes be handcuffed by the policies that are in place at their place of employment. If they were empowered to be able to handle a situation as it arises instead of being bound to the policies in place, the customer experience would many times become much better. However, policies are necessary in certain cases - I just wish people would know how to articulate them!

I had a situation today with my apartment complex, where I called to have service completed on my place. I told the woman who answered the phone that I needed to make a service appointment, and that I was leaving right then, and needed them to come this afternoon instead because I preferred to be there while they were working. I was told "I'll make sure they call before the come, no problem."

Well, as you may have guessed, 5 pm came and not a soul had come to my apartment to work on it. I went to the office to talk to them to be sure that the service appointment was made, and the woman said "our policy is 24 hours for a service call, and I never told you that they would be there this afternoon." I gently told her that I was under the impression that they would be since she said they would call before coming, since I specifically said I needed them to come this afternoon instead of in the morning. She essentially said "I put in the appointment." and stopped talking...

How could this situation have been avoided? All the woman had to do was tell me the policy when I called originally. Sometimes, policies are in place for very good reasons. I get it - if they didn't have a 24-hour policy for the service calls, everyone would expect their work to be done right then. However, this situation did not need to happen. All she needed to do was react to my comment about leaving and that it would be better if they came this afternoon. She could have made the point to say "I'll make sure they call before they come, and by the way, our policy is 24 hours for service calls, so they'll be there sometime tomorrow."

That would have satisfied me. Instead, I'm now hoping they stand by the 24-hour policy she told me today, which would mean someone will be here by 9:30 am tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have another post about that tomorrow!

Are there times when we in our associations don't articulate our policies effectively, and thus cause more hardship than there needs to be? Is there a policy in your association relating to good customer service? How do you assure that your employees are doing well?

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