Friday, 15 March 2013

Customer Service

I don't have much tolerance for poor customer service/stupidity/incompetence/lack of professionalism or whatever you want to call it.
I need to have my main shut-off valve for my plumbing replaced, plus I have a couple of minor jobs that I haven't been able to do because I can't shut off the water. I called one of the local plumbing outfits. No answer - instead I got one of those goofy voicemails: "press one to leave a message for John, etc." So I pressed the number for the guy that I know runs the business and left him a message requesting a ballpark figure for replacing the shut-off valve. After all, I want to know that I can afford it before having it done. After being out for some time, I came home and checked my voicemail. Nothing, but when I checked call display, I saw that he had called. Why didn't he leave a message? I only asked for a ballpark figure, not a written estimate. If he wanted more information, why didn't he say so? Did he want my business or not? I gave this outfit a second chance and stopped in the office. The woman in the office (not any of the men - they just ignored me) gave me some information and some figures to go on. Later I called the office, detailed what I wanted done and told the woman I spoke with that I was off the week of the 18th, so would like it done then. This was about 2 weeks ago and I was puzzled when she didn't book the time immediately. After all, that was why I was calling in advance, so that I could make sure they would do it while I was off work. I asked her if they were going to let me know when they were coming. She replied, "Oh yes, we'll give you a call to let you know when they're coming." That reply left me shaking my head. Did she think I was going to just sit around twiddling my thumbs all week, waiting for the plumber to show up? Just because I'm off all week, doesn't mean I plan on staying home all week. I'm giving the plumber the option to pick a day that he can be here and then I can plan what I want to do for the rest of the week.
As my week off approached, I figured I should call them to find out a definite day at least, if not an exact time, when they planned on being here. I forgot. Then yesterday, the 14th, when I got home from work, I had a voicemail from the woman in the office asking if I would be home so that they could come and do the work. Run that by me again. I distinctly remember telling her that I would be off the week of the 18th, so why is she calling me, expecting to send over a plumber on the 14th? So, I called her back and said that I told her I would be off the week of the 18th and wanted the work done then. She said that wasn't her I told. Okay, let me get this straight: the woman that I talked to the first time didn't bother to record anywhere that I wanted the work done the week of the 18th. And the woman I'm talking to now denies that it was her I told, but she does not bother apologizing for the oversight. A simple, "I'm sorry, it's not recorded on the work order," would have gone a long ways towards mollifying a disgruntled customer. Even if it wasn't your mistake, you are the representative of the business that somehow screwed up, so apologize. This time I insisted that I wanted an actual time booked. She said she would call me tomorrow. That was yesterday. Today, I got home from work and no voicemail, nothing on call display. And this is late Friday before my week off. 
It was about 5:00 when I called another plumber in town. He (yes, I talked to a man this time) said that he could probably do it next week, but he would have to get the town to shut off the water supply from the outside and it was too late in the day to contact anyone from the town. So, he asked me to call him first thing Monday morning. And I will. And hopefully, we can coordinate with the town so my work can get done during my week off, even though it was left rather late, thanks to my waiting around for a response from the first plumber. Never again. I have said before that sometimes I'm too nice for my own good. And I think this was one of those times. If I'd followed my instinct and not bothered to give the first plumber my business after he failed to even leave me a voicemail, I would have had all the arrangements already made with the second plumber. And not have had to endure the incompetence of his office help. Good customer service is as valuable as gold. And maybe I might just let the first plumber know that the lack of good customer service just cost him a customer. Not just one job, but a customer. I'm a single home owner and there are some jobs I can't do on my own. My plumbing and heating jobs will now go to another plumber.