Don’t hand your customer toilet paper for a messy problem. Fix the plumbing.
Creative managers create solutions alongside staff. Duct tape and WD40 and vise grips may be all that is needed to do small jobs around the house. That won’t do in a productive and viable business. You need to fix the plumbing. You need to eliminate the repeating problem. You need to take responsibility instead of putting the issue in the customer’s hands. Don’t make them clean it up.
Good service management attends to a few items. There are incidents and service requests, problems and changes. Keep clarity between items. Address appropriately.
Incidents and Service Requests: These two items make up the bulk of customer service.
A service request is what we live to do. A customer asks for a product or service to be delivered. So do it. Do it with excellence and alacrity. Do it with pizzazz and punctuality. Do it. A service request may ask for an altered product or service or a new product or service. That means we have to jump into the area of change and that is another manage well article.
An incident is what we wish would never happen. While delivering a product or service, something is not right. Color is too light. The size is too big. The pizza came with pepperoni instead of black olives. The customer wanted 250 and we delivered 1000. While working with a client, every other email returned an error. My service provider was experiencing incidents. Thankfully they cleared the issue, but not before my customer had to wait extra minutes waiting on reports to be delivered as I had promised. Incidents need to be restored to proper service levels immediately and product or service delivered.
Problems and Changes: Confuse these and your customers will suffer unreasonable delays and constant delivery disruption.
Problems are incidents that won’t go away until a change is installed or a fix applied. A fix is just a fancy name for a change. When the plumbing backed up into my house through the shower drain, it impressed me something was tragically wrong. All the paper towels and mop buckets would not resolve this. When a problems occurs you need to look for root cause of the issue and determine a resolution or change to be made to stop the incidents from coming back. The sewer main had collapsed at the saddle in my back yard blocking all drainage from the house. The city came, sent cameras down the lines, and claimed it was an incident, it was my incident, and they were going home. I don’t think so. A friend and I dug seven foot deep in my back yard until we found the collapsed connection leading to the major collapsed connection. The city came back and repaired at much expense and then paid to restore my house to right order. Their paper towel and toilet paper solution was not going to fix my backhoe and major plumbing problem. Full repair and restoration was needed. The root cause had to be determined and a change made to get us back on track.
Changes move the nature of the service into a different order. Replacing the main saddle in my back yard not only restored right water flow out of the house, it took care of a sinkhole that could have swallowed one of my children. No one knew the sink hole existed until we dug up the yard. There were bigger problems looming that the change repaired. Changes fix things for good. Not necessarily forever, but for good. And they have potential to adjust the nature of the product or service. By handing me a toilet paper solution the city was setting us all up for some major pain.
Kudos for the city. The next time I had a city potential issue, the service manager came out, inspected, found a crack in the line feeding water to my house, repaired it, installed a new meter, and made me a happy man. It was a different experience and one for which I am grateful. Oh, they also reversed charges on my water bill even though the leak appeared to be in my pipe not the city pipe. That is service. They took responsibility for a debatable item and went an extra step. I love my city’s service.
Summary: Get your customer back to service as rapidly as possible. And then look deeper to determine if a problem exists that will cause service to be impacted again. Find the root and fix the plumbing. Work on your shop processes. Look for machine malfunctions. Examine reporting routines. Do whatever it takes to eliminate repeating incidents. Your customer will appreciate. Your business will grow.
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