Customer Service Mandate?

How many times have you been told by a cable company, delivery service, or appliance repair company that they will be at your home sometime between 1PM and 4PM? And how many times have you waited, only to have the service person arrive later than promised or not arrive at all?

Staying home for a half-day, and perhaps having to repeat the experience due to a no-show service person is one of the truly frustrating customer experiences nearly everyone can relate to. For some it can also be extremely costly because they’re taking time off of work to be on “standby.”

I’ve often wondered how receptive these companies would be to a customer who said, “Just have the repair person wait in my driveway; I’ll be there between 1PM and 4PM.”

I had a guilty pleasure this morning when I read an editorial in USA Today reporting that New York City is drafting a contract with Time Warner and Cablevision stating, “If a technician fails to show up inside the promised service window, the company has to give the customer a month’s service for free.” Additionally, “Repair techs have to call, text, or e-mail (customer’s choice) to say that they’re on their way.”

I’m not a big fan of expanding government’s involvement in business, but New York’s action highlights the magnitude of customer dissatisfaction with the standard processes of these companies. The same thing happened with airlines holding passengers “hostage” on the tarmac; it took the threat of a stiff financial penalty for the airlines to do the right thing for customers.

How about your own organization's processes and policies? For the moment, let’s take actual government intervention out of it as you think about this question: Does your organization have processes or policies that your customers might wish the government would penalize you for? I’m not talking about those policies that are regulatory-based; I’m asking you to look at company-driven processes and policies.

Just imagine if you’re the one organization amongst your competitors that comes up with a way to improve an industry-standard process that customers have universally found to be frustrating. Wouldn’t you love to hear one of your customers say to a friend, “XYZ Company is so easy to work with. Why can’t everyone do it like they do?”

Something to think about: What’s the one process improvement that would have the greatest positive impact on the experience customers have with your organization?