Considering Customer Service

March 27, 2012
With all that’s on your plate as an equipment manager, do you ever stop to think about customer service?

With all that’s on your plate as an equipment manager, do you ever stop to think about customer service? Whether your “customer” is the CFO, a project owner, or even another contractor, it might pay to ask yourself “What kind of service am I providing?”

What impression is that customer left with? Further, are your processes or responses to questions/directives a little too automatic for their own good?

First case in point: I recently lost my mom after a battle with Alzheimer’s and other afflictions. She had a medical emergency and passed away before reaching the hospital emergency room. A couple of weeks later, she was mailed a survey asking her how she felt about the service she received in said emergency room.

I considered a number of responses, from filling out the survey sheepishly pretending to be her (“The ride was bumpy and I wasn’t really satisfied with the night’s outcome”) to using a red pen to scrawl the giant initials for a three-word question (featuring a choice expletive) across the survey.

I’d like to tell you that a cooler head prevailed. I’d like to tell you that. What I ended up doing was something in the middle of the two poles; something you need to be aware of if you, or your company, deals with the public and has a public image. Yep, that’s pretty much everyone…

But first, it gets worse: I had to call an insurance carrier to cancel mom’s supplemental health insurance, which was automatically debited out of her checking account. Guess what arrives in the mail a few days later? It was a letter to her, confirming that she’s opted out of “EZ Pay” and forwarding her first paper invoice for next month.

At least they had the courtesy to warn her that she can’t go back to EZ Pay for six months now that she’s requested regular billing. Not a problem, guys! Death’s a Hard Pay, anyway.

In both cases, I decided to take my displeasure beyond a touch-tone menu or a call center employee. I went to social media. Facebook. Twitter. If a member of the public or someone disgruntled with your company wants to send a message, this is increasingly where it’s going to get done. Even in an “old school” industry like construction.

People won’t be calling your boss or picketing your job site anymore.

Messages are typed, messages spread instantly. Reputations can be tarnished. The hospital didn’t respond to my first tweet taking them to task until they saw the second one, with their competitor’s Twitter handle included.

It read something like “I bet [competing hospital] doesn’t send surveys to dead people about how they liked their ER visit, as [unthinking naughty hospital] does.” I got a quick response with a phone number and contact name of a “Patient Experience Representative.”

Since tweeting about the insurance carrier just hours ago, that company has sent me a direct message acknowledging my frustration and asking for a phone number. Nicely done.

In both customer-facing “offenses,” automatic responses or long-standing procedures trumped good sense and personalized help. Turns out these entities care about the impression they leave and the service they give. And they care about their image.

Do you?

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.