19SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Brad Roteman Brad Roteman has served HSFCU since February 2005. He is a former district sales manager with Bankers Systems, Inc., now Walters Klewer Financial Services. Brad has won numerous awards for … Web: www.hsfcu1.org Details A major retailer with a long and proud history of excellent customer service has run into difficult times. This huge corporation has attempted mightily to change the image it projects with increased training, leadership changes, and a variety of programs designed to help employees do a better job of making customers feel more satisfied with their buying experiences. Unfortunately, management believes these processes and procedures are having greater positive results than they are. My recent experiences with the company, on several levels, indicates a huge failure to deliver in several areas. In this article I will detail some of the occurrences and attempt to provide some possible solutions, because experience tells me that the same types of issues experienced by this large corporation occur in all business types, including credit unions.Recently my wife and I decided to purchase a new table and chair set for our deck. We spent a day looking at selections at a dozen or so stores. Finally, we found a seven-piece set and umbrella that was exactly what we wanted. It featured a smoked glass round table and six swivel chairs. We loved it. We bought it.Delivery was scheduled for the following Monday. We paid an additional fee to have it delivered assembled. Assembly was critical for two reasons. First, I can’t hammer a nail in straight. Second, assembly would result in a heck=of=an argument between my bride of forty=seven years and I. But, as luck would have it, we received a call Friday evening that the delivery would not be made due to the breakage of the glass tabletop at the warehouse during assembly. We were told we would have to wait three weeks for a new set to arrive from the factory. We discussed this and decided to cancel the order. We did not feel comfortable having a glass tabletop that did not make it through assembly. It was our intention to go back to the same store and buy another set the next week.It was at this point that lack of communication within the corporation began to show itself. Monday came and nearly went by without incident, until I checked my email for the last time before going to bed. There, from the retailer, was a survey request sent out at 10:00 p.m. for a delivery I had cancelled three days prior! If only this was the sole example of lack of communication within the retailer’s maze of departmental silos I was to experience. But, alas, it was merely the prelude!We went to the store on Wednesday and picked out an aluminum table with six chairs, only two of which were swivel. The salesman and acting department manager graciously gave us a $100 discount for our inconvenience (the store is 20 miles from my home). They also checked and found the warehouse had none in stock, but the store had one boxed. So, they arranged for the warehouse to pick it up, assemble it, and deliver it the following week. We were happy again. At least until delivery day.Right on time the furniture was on my deck. BOXED and UNASSEMBLED! The delivery men explained they do not assemble. The warehouse does the assembly. They are independent delivery only contractors. I protested and suggested they take it back and I would cancel the order. They called the warehouse and were on hold twenty-five minutes. I called the 800 number for delivery problems I had been given while they waited on hold for the warehouse. The woman I spoke to informed me I had received the floor demo unit and therefore it was not assembled. I offered to take a photo of the boxed furniture and email it to her. She refused, insisting that her computer could not be wrong. I again insisted that if it were the demo model assembly would not be required, because it would have been delivered assembled! She again reminded me that her information was official, I had an assembled set and that was that! Thankfully, as they waited the delivery guys tried to assemble. They failed to complete and finally talked to the warehouse manager by calling his home number. He agreed to have it brought back and have his people assemble it with delivery Friday. We agreed.I called the toll free number for complaints for the retailer and spent 25 minutes on hold before I gave up. I called back later and they had no record of my previous call and assured me once more I had ordered the already assembled demo from the store. I then called the store. First, I called the patio furniture department. Another fifteen minutes went by and no answer. Then I tried the store manager’s office. Will you believe twenty minutes of hearing how important my phone call was, before I hung up? Undeterred, I called the department back the next day and got through to the salesman. He asked if he could research and get back to me. I agreed. Later he called with the news that the warehouse policy is to not assemble items picked up at the store for delivery. Neither he nor his manager had been aware of this. He also reported that customer service had no record of my phone calls on the first delivery date or the previous night. He assured me I would receive calls from his store manager and his department manager the next day. I did not!Friday the furniture arrived assembled. Monday I called the store and the manager took my call. He was busy and assured me he would call back within twenty-four hours. He failed. The department manager never called either. So, frustrated with the entire situation, I looked up the name of the national vice president for customer experience and emailed her. I received a call from her support person in ten minutes. I explained the situation, step by step. He listened and asked questions. Finally, he assured me an investigation would be started. Secondly, he offered me a $200 discount on top of the earlier $100 discount I had been granted due to the broken tabletop. He followed up with me as he received information on the investigation. Finally, I felt someone other that my salesperson and an outside contract delivery person cared about my order.What lessons are here for us? For me the lessons are that procedures must be constantly reviewed. Procedures must also, I believe, have reliable people enforcing and carrying them out. Testing of procedures with reliable secret shoppers or by checking ourselves is also essential and can’t be done too often. Regular review with employees of policies and procedures should be a priority, even if seemingly redundant.When breakdowns in service occur, it matters not what our intentions are. People judge us by what we actually do. They do not judge us by what we wish we had done. A great adage that I use to guide myself and use in coaching others is, “It is what it is”. We cannot change what has happened, but we can learn from it. We can’t guaranty what will happen tomorrow, but we can plan and prepare for it. We can only be certain that we can influence that which is happening now. Make certain that which you think is happening is actually happening. The consequences for it not can be disastrous.