Broken Organizations

July 17, 2007

So many organizations are broken. You know them, as you've probably tried to deal with one or two, at least, in the past week. I'm on my second phone call today with BlueTie, trying simply to change the credit card to which my account gets billed monthly. What should be a one-minute on-line fix has already stretched into fifteen minutes, with no end in sight yet. Simplicato is one that's appeared in this blog before, so I won't even go there. Want an example among "traditional, old-style" firms? Ewald Tractor, right here in Boerne. I called them last weekend to (1) see if they had spare mower blades in stock and to (2) find out what they charged for sharpening a set of blades. The parts guy couldn't find info on the blades, so he took my number and said he'd call me back. He never did. He did, however, attempt to transfer me to the service manager so that I could get an answer about the sharpening fee. The service manager was, however, out on the lot, so the parts guy asked me if I could call back "after while". What? Having paid these folks a fortune for a new mower only weeks before, I hope you can understand that I was a little frustrated that I was, in effect, being asked to guess when the service manager might be available later in the day. Whatever happened to "I'll take a message and have him call you back?" I thought my salesperson needed to know about this, even though I figured it was all probably just a coincidental series of small slip-ups on what was likely an extraordinarily busy day. By my salesperson's defensive and illogical response, it was pretty clear to me that he wasn't even really listening to what I was trying to tell him. I wasn't complaining for his sympathy. I just wanted someone to acknowledge that this wasn't handled very well so that my disappointing encounter would not be in vain. I wanted to help them! Indeed, I'm afraid my unpleasant experience that day might be a sign of systemic problems, not just some coincidental mix-ups. Alas, I'm afraid all of our organizations are, perhaps, broken to some extent. Fact it, it's difficult to provide the seemingly seamless high level of support I get every time I call American Express customer service. How do they do that?!! Even as a small organization, I know we don't always give our customers the feeling that we're doing everything we can to take care of them. But we're trying, and if anybody out there has feedback for us that might help us improve, let me be the first to say it would be most welcome. We need customers who are not afraid to tell us when we're doing something wrong, and I realize this describes a minority of your customers and mine. Treasure the squeaky wheel. You won't thrive without feedback, whether good or bad.