Customer Service: Doing it Wrong

I have recently changed one of my utilities from one option to another, meaning that I signed up with company A, and cancelled service with company B. Company A has been great. Personable, professional, punctual. The guy who came in to install my new equipment even took time to start interesting conversation as he worked.

Company B has left something to be desired. A quick timeline.

D (Decision) Day: I call company B and tell them to shut of my service in two days. They describe the process, which includes shutoff on D+2, and them shipping me a box to send them back their modem.

D+1: Company A’s chatty representative comes to my house and sets up my new service.

D+9: A sales rep from company B calls and asks if I really intend to shut down service with them (note that this is a week after the day they were instructed to). I say no thank you.

D+13: I get a call from the collections department of company A, asking — I’ll admit politely — why I haven’t turned in the modem. I tell them I was waiting for the box, which the rep says they never said they’d send. They arrange to send a courier out to pick it up in two days.

D+14: Courier shows up in the middle of my day, a day early. I give him the modem and collect my receipt.

D+16 (yesterday): I get another collections call asking where their modem is. I read them the receipt number from the courier.

I’m not just writing this to vent. Learning from other peoples’ mistakes is one of the best things we can do as professionals in any field. I’m not worried that these guys are going to torch my credit, or that I won’t get a full refund for the extra week they kept me on.  Big companies usually make these things right. That’s not the problem here.

The problem here is that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and neither of them are in touch with the foot they’re subcontracting part of the job to. It’s a problem of organization and communication.

As freelance writers, it’s easy to fall into the habit of “remembering” all of our deadlines and urgent communications. Heck, my rule for years was “if I’m tempted to buy a calendar, it’s time to simplify my life.” But if you want to make a full-time living, you need to keep your tasks and contacts organized.

There’s all manner of ways to make and keep that organization. I’d love to hear some of your ideas and methods. Doesn’t really matter how you meet your deadlines and keep your promises…

…but it matters a lot that you do so.

Thanks for listening.

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