So recently I exchanged emails with BBO (Big, Bad Owner, for those of you who haven't read my two Elsie W. Books.) and I made a comment that the reason I had to bother him about some issue was that our customers tended to be stupid when it came to the information they gave us and their expectations of the stuff we install. (No, that new window we installed is not going to make your husband stop being a jackass. And no, that sink we installed isn't going to make your kids be any more respectful.) This was a private email between the two of us, not like any of the customers in question would ever read it.
BBO, who hasn't dealt with the endless deluge of customers I do in several years, informed me I was being uncharitable and that our customers were not stupid.
So this week's Five for Friday is dedicated to BBO because these are actual phone calls I got from actual people in the last three days. Maybe I am being uncharitable. But my days are filled with not stupid conversations like this and I think maybe BBO should retract the scolding he gave me.
5) I didn't listen to the message so you clearly didn't leave one.
This is an issue that grinds the gears of everyone in the office. Well, every one except Captain Nubbin, who simply thinks it's hilarious that PM, NGTJ and I spend our days leaving messages customers simply do not listen to and then the customers call, enraged that no one has passed on vital information to them. Seriously, every day I call people to tell them what time the installers are coming to install the stuff they paid us to install. Generally I have to a leave a message. Let me amend that: If I dial the phone for the purpose of giving information to a customer, I ALWAYS leave a message.
So on Wednesday I get a call from a gent. "I see someone from this number called three times and I need to know what the emergency is."
Just like that. No, "Hi my name is," nothing like that.
I said, "Did the person who called leave a message?"
He said, "Maybe. I didn't listen but my phone says someone called three times so it has to be an emergency."
After sorting out that yes, I called him, once, (his phone registered my extension number as X3) I told him when his installers would arrive on Thursday. I also informed him that yes, I had left that very same information on his phone.
On Thursday the same gent called and said, "I'm having installers come in today and no one has bothered to call me and tell me when the installers are coming today."
Nope, our customer are not stupid.
4) See, the problem is, what you installed is working exactly the way it should be...so I'm not happy.
|See if you slide the shower head down,|
your hair won't get wet...
Customer: I'm very unhappy with the shower head.
Sarah: What's wrong with it?"
Customer: It's a hand held, one of those with a hose, you know? And it's just too big. Water gets on my hair and I never want water to get on my hair in the shower.
Sarah: Well, it's a hand held, so maybe you can lower it on the slide bar and then it won't hit your hair?
Customer: No, the shower head size is the problem. It's too big. I didn't want one that big, but the salesman said you didn't carry anything smaller so now I don't like it because it's getting my hair wet.
Sarah: Well, ma'am, if we don't carry a smaller shower head, then I'm thinking the best way for you to keep your hair from getting wet in the shower is to just lower the shower head a little bit so it doesn't hit your hair.
Customer: Look, the shower head is spraying water all over the shower stall and it's getting my hair wet and I know it's the smallest one you carry, but it's too big so I want a tech to come out and fix it.
Sarah: Ma'am, you're telling me it's working exactly the way we said it would work.
Customer: no, it's not because it's getting my hair wet!
Oh yeah, our customers have Vulcan logic.
3) Only one man can tell me how to clean my shower, so little girl, go find him and put him on the phone.
PM is a really good guy and takes on a ton of calls that just about no one else in the building can or will handle. However, PM was on vacation this week. And that meant, since we all know Captain Nubbin isn't able to do much other than pass a phone call on to someone else, that I would be taking all of the installation and service calls. Normally not a problem. Until this frequently flier on the "pain in my neck customer" train called in.
Customer: Yes, I've been dealing with PM.
Sarah: PM is out of the office all week. How can I help you?"
Customer; I'm having trouble with my shower doors.
Sarah: What's going on with them?
Customer: No one has told me how to clean them.
Sarah: (Biting the inside of her mouth because she just remembered who this guy is.) Well, sir, I can tell you exactly how to clean your shower doors.
Customer: No, you can't. PM can tell me how to clean my doors so their don't get smeared.
Sarah: Sir, PM is on vacation all week, but I assure you, I can tell you exactly how to clear your shower doors.
Customer: No, you won't know how to clean the shower doors. I've been dealing with PM and I want him to tell me how to clean the doors.
Sarah: Sir, all you have to do it...
Customer: I do not want to hear anything you say. You don't know how to clean my shower doors. So you can either send someone out here to show me or you can have PM call me later today.
Sarah: Sir, PM is out of the office until Monday. And I cannot send a tech out to clean your shower doors because I can, indeed, tell you exactly what to do.
Customer: You have been rude and have not helped me at all. I will be calling your boss to complain.
Of course, he hung up on me before I could give him BBO's number. Too bad, I would love to have seen what BBO would have done with him.
2) I don't know what the terms "impasse" and "catch-22" mean.
|What would you like installed?|
On Tuesday I called a woman to ask her a few more questions about the card she filled out. It seems she wanted a shower base installed in her home. Problem was, she had no shower in the space she wanted the base installed. This intrigued me.
I should know better.
Here's how it went:
Sarah: We saw you at the fair over the weekend and I see you're interested in having a shower base installed?
Sarah: Oh, I'm sorry, I just got this card and that's what it says.
Customer: No, I want a price for what it would cost to get a shower base installed.
Sarah: (We aren't supposed to give pricing over the phone. That's the job of the sales guys.) Well, I will be happy to schedule a time for one of our consultants to come out and take a look at the space and give you a price. But it doesn't look like there's a shower in the space right now.
Customer: No, we're converting a closet into a shower.
Sarah: So there's no drain or shower walls?
Customer: no. they told me at the fair I needed to get that put in first.
Sarah: Yes, that's correct. We aren't able to price out a job if we know we aren't going to be able to do the job. So I tell you what, once you get the drain put in and the walls roughed in for a shower, I'll be happy to schedule that appointment for you, okay?
Customer: No. I want a price for what it would cost to get a shower pan put it. So send someone out now.
Sarah: Ma'am, I'm not able to send anyone out if there's nothing for us to look at.
Customer: Yes, they told me that at the fair. But I want a price. You tell me a price.
Sarah: In this case, ma'am, any number I give you would be wrong. It would be a guess. I have no idea what something like this would cost.
Customer: That's fine. I won't hold you to the price. I just want to know what it would cost. $2000? $5000? $10000?
Sarah: It might cost any one of those. There's no way we can even guess at a price for this job until we see the shower space and there's no point in sending someone out to see the shower space until there's a shower space to see.
Customer: Well I'm not getting the closet torn out or the drain put in until you come out and give me a price.
Sarah: Then I guess we have a catch-22 here. I can't send someone out until you do that preliminary work and you won't do the preliminary work until we come out.
Customer: Right. So just tell me a price.
Sarah: Ma'am, In all honesty I haven't a clue (this is actually true in this case) what something like this is going to cost and I'm going to send a consultant to your home to take up your time (because it's always about taking up the customer's time) when there's nothing there for him to look at to decide what the price will be. Until you put in a drain and rough in shower walls, we are at an impasse. There's nothing there for my consultant to give you a price on.
Customer: You are not being very helpful. All I want is a price.
Sarah: Okay, ma'am, any one of our jobs can be anywhere from $1000-$15000 depending on what you want installed. That's the honestly best answer I can give you.
Customer: Well, then send someone out here to give me a better price.
Sarah: MA'AM...we do not do the kind of work you need done in your space.
Customer: Yes, they told me that at the fair.
Sarah: So until you have a space in your home where we are able to install something, there's no way I can send someone out there to give you any better pricing for your project than what I've already said.
Customer: But you won't give me any kind of price.
Sarah: (am I losing my mind?) Look, I can have my production manager talk to you. He's on vacation this week, but I'll have him give you a call.
Customer: He'll be able to give me a price?
Sarah: Ma'am, PM will probably tell you exactly what I've told you, but he manages all the installations and he may have more information I'm not aware of.
Customer: Good, because I'm not doing any of this work until I know what you're going to charge me.
Yes, all of our customers have solid listening skills.
1) Oh, never mind then.
Most of the time when I get a call to schedule a repair, it's easy and takes one phone call, maybe six or seven minutes. I'm pretty good at what I do, in spite of what you might think reading this blog. But Tuesday I had big fun with a couple who clearly aren't smart enough to communicate with each other much less people outside their house.
It started with a sales guy telling me a I needed to call someone. I hate this. The sales guys are constantly calling me because they've talked to a customer and whatever the customer says, the sales guys aren't equipped to answer so they come to me...the customer service dump site. Tuesdays are the worst because the Sales Guys come in for a meeting and surround my desk like the Undead either waiting for me to print something for them, look up their sales numbers, or call their customers. It's one reason I loathe Tuesdays.
So this Tuesday a Sales guy says, "You need to call...um...I think his name is Kevin. And he lives in Northtown on Highway 7."
Sales Guy: I was having a beer with him and he said something was wrong with the thing we installed.
Sarah: Do you have a phone number?
Sales Guy: Just Kevin on Highway 7. I think that's his name.
Oh good. After doing a bit of a search I found someone whose name and general address matched that crack description and I made two phones calls: One to each number. I left messages at both.
An hour before I was to leave for the day I dialed the first number again. I got Kevin!
Sarah: Hi Kevin, this is Sarah from Stuff Installed. I understand you saw Don last night and you told him you needed some service on the sink we installed.
Kevin: Yeah. Hey, call my wife, okay? Because she's home and just call her.
Sarah: You want me to call your wife instead of answering your questions?
At this point I'm a little grieved. I mean, I left a message on his phone at 8 AM. He not only couldn't return a message in seven hours, he wouldn't even talk to me after I called him again?
So I call the wife. Let's call her Deena.
Deena: (Sounding quite...stoned) yeah?
Sarah: Hi Deena, it's Sarah from Stuff, Installed. Kevin told me to call you because you talked to Don last night about the sink?
Deena: I don't know a Don.
Sarah: Okay, well, then Kevin talked to Don. Don told me to call you because something's wrong with your sink?
Deena: I didn't call anyone.
Sarah: Yes, I know. Kevin told me to call you about the problem you're having with the sink.
Deena: I didn't call anyone about the sink.
(Remember, it's three in the afternoon.)
Sarah: So your faucet isn't loose?
Deena: (long pause) Oh, well a long time ago the thing where the water comes out was loose. But I talked to someone a really long time ago about that.
(I checked their account. They've had that sink for less than two months.)
Sarah: So your faucet is loose?
Deena: No, the thing where the water comes out is loose, but someone said it was okay.
Sarah: So you don't need anyone to come out and look at it?
Deena: Well, yeah, I mean if you want to, but that guy a long time ago said it was normal because the thing is in a bigger thing and so the thing is loose.
(Go ahead and digest that for a minute.)
Sarah: Is the faucet looser than it was the first time you called?
Deena: No. It's about the same.
Sarah: Okay, so here's what we're going to do: Keep an eye on it for the next week. If it gets looser, call me.
Personally, I'm waiting for the call from her next week when she tells me she had to use her vacation time at work because she had to watch her sink.
And there you go. Frankly, yes, I think BBO owes me a retraction.