Nobody Said Service Was Easy!

How would your customer rate a recent service experience with your company? How would they choose that rating? Was it the friendliness or expertise of your technician? How quickly the job got done? Were the right parts available? Did they have eligible warranty coverage? Likely, it was some combination of these factors.

Ron Kaufman of Up Your Service defines six levels of service:

  • Unbelievable! (In a good way!)
  • Surprising
  • Desired
  • Expected
  • Basic
  • Criminal

For me, as a consumer, the recent experience of getting my all-of-a-sudden extra-loud humming and vibrating refrigerator fixed vacillated between “expected” and “desired.” The technician showed up during the allotted four-hour time slot (a pleasant surprise) and he seemed nice enough.

He started with looking in/on/around/under the fridge – all normal procedure I assumed. However, my confidence dropped as he repeatedly mumbled “hmmm” and shuffled through the papers he had brought. I thought, “Who cares how nice he is if he has no idea what he’s doing?”

He proceeded to tighten this and adjust that. I felt better that he was finally doing something, but after a while this seemed like a trial-and-error approach with the humming as steady as ever. Wasn’t there any useful information about my specific fridge in that manual of his?

He then stepped outside to call the support line (which I had already done hence the reason he was there). Upon his return, he informed me that it could be a broken fan blade, a bent piece of tubing, a plugged condenser or a worn out compressor. Unfortunately he had no way to tell what the most common cause was for the kind of refrigerator I had.

In the end, after another house call and fitting of three different parts (the first two parts were for a different model) my fridge was fixed. The outcome was “expected” because the humming did stop and I’ll even say a shade of “desired” because I only had to pay for the first house call and just the one part that was used versus the three that were ordered.

There were various moments along the way where my technician could have improved his service and my experience.

If he’d had a mobile device, for instance, where he could have looked up the necessary, up-to-date service information for my particular model, the issue would have been diagnosed faster and he could have avoided over-ordering parts for the wrong fridge. No doubt his company had to pay for those two extra parts as well as the second service call to my house.

That improvement alone would have made for a much better customer experience and saved his company precious time and money.

Based on Kaufman’s scale above, how would you rate the level of service your company provides to customers? And what steps are you taking to elevate that service experience?

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Service Lifecycle Management and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 thoughts on “Nobody Said Service Was Easy!”

  1. John Carroll says:

    Donna,

    I enjoyed your blog and the real life example you presented; a scenario most of us can relate to on some level, perhaps with variability around which widget was failing (e.g. Dishwasher, HVAC, Security System, etc.).

    A key takeaway that I was left with from your post was the lack of credibility that the technician left you with as a consumer. As the consumer, you had no confidence that he was knowledgable enough, prepared or enabled through technology and/or tribal knowledge in the form of product/service documentation, to resolve your refrigerator failure. Forget the availability and pre-supposed assumptions that could have been made at the point at which you requested the technician, pre-empting what parts would be required to resolve the issue based on the symptoms. I’m curious, was there an interview where they diagnosed the problem and narrowed down the possibilities? Is it our responsibility as consumers to make sure we educate our service providers to enable a quick, and affordable resolution? I’m making an assumption but it sounds as if you were out of warranty and absent of a maintenance contract? I wonder if the service request was on the providers dime, would they have taken steps to eliminate multiple technician visits and optimize the delivery of service (to avoid additional labor and fuel costs regarding the multiple dispatches)?

    The Service Council has seen an overwhelming trend, or tilt towards the importance of behavior in creating happy customers (the 4 major tenants being People, Parts, Data & Technology). And not just on behalf of the vendor, but also on the consumer side. We are launching a benchmark survey on the “Role of Service” in the coming months based on input on its value from the Advisory Board.

    At the recent Smarter Services Symposium, Stu Reed, President of Sears Holdings Corporation, Home Services, perhaps a very relevant person to reference given they conduct 12M in-home repairs annually, gave a keynote presentation on “Customer Proadvocacy”. Sears equates 53% of its business to customer referrals placing a higher degree of importance on customer experience and satisfaction. Their mission is to deliver service that is “worthy of telling a friend”.

    Stu outlined 5 key process and behavioral tenants of their customer engagement model:

    1) Give me the date I want.
    2) Do not reschedule me.
    3) Show up when you promise.
    4) Fix it the same day.
    5) Show me respect as a customer.

    Through extensive research, Sears was able to determine that if you only meet requirements 1 thru 4, Customers will report a 58% customer satisfaction level. When you isolate requirement 5 and miss on requirements 1 thru 4, Sears achieves an 82% customer satisfaction level. When you put them altogether and meet all 5 requirements, they reported a 95% customer satisfaction rate.

    In a nutshell, the single most important customer requirement is “showing respect for the customer” which, in many ways, I equate your experience to. Go figure…

    1. Donna Brasure says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for reading and commenting! You bring up an interesting point – that perhaps my service experience would have been different/more efficient had I been covered under warranty. I hope that’s not the case though, ideally all customers should be treated/serviced equally as we all have the same weight in passing on our references to friends and family no?

      You also mention that maybe we as consumers should take a hand in helping to educate our service providers to ease/accelerate the service event. In that sense, I suppose I am guilty of having set my expectations too high and assuming that the technician is all-knowing and that my only role is to describe the symptoms and be at home to open the door. Realistically, the technician probably services dozens of different appliances and hundreds or maybe even more models. Yet another example of why on-demand access to product-specific service information is a game-changer.

      I agree with you that creating happy customers is the key to all of this (it means that everything else went right to get to this outcome).

      This really stresses the significance that in order to create happy customers every time companies need to ensure consistency in their processes and dedicate themselves to a service-oriented culture.

      I look forward to the results of your benchmark survey – please let me know when it’s available!

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