Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Promises, Promises

For those of you who don't know, I work for a moving company, helping to plan moves, resolving claims, sending quality surveys, managing the social media channels, etc.  My title is Customer Relations Coordinator.  [Shameless plug - if you're moving and want it done right, feel free to send me an email.  I can give some free advice or can have one of our moving consultants contact you to provide an estimate.  And it doesn't matter where you live - we're well networked and can probably recommend somebody local to help you.]

For the past couple of weeks I've been trying to get in touch with a firm with whom we did some business in the US.  We contracted this company, an automobile hauler, to move a large boat trailer for one of our customers, as it wouldn't fit on our tractor trailer unit.  They did move it, but in order to attach the trailer to their truck, they needed to improvise the trailer's connections to the extent that the hydraulic brake fluid for the trailer leaked out, depressurizing the whole system.  When our customer received the boat trailer and realized what had happened, he took it to a dealer who re-pressurized & resealed the brake system at a cost of $155.  Naturally, this expense should have gone to the auto hauler, as it was their fumbling that caused the problem in the first place.  Whether or not it was a necessary problem, I don't know.  But ultimately, the customer should not have been saddled with the cost.

We asked the hauler to send a cheque to our customer in compensation.  This is where this post's title comes into play.  After a bit of a runaround, I was referred to Julie in their claims department.  I emailed her on Sep 7, and followed it up with a phone call on Sep 10, asking her to send a cheque and to let us know when it was done.  Her voicemail greeting is fairly standard, but it ends with something unique: "I will call you back by the end of the business day."  That emphasis is hers.

I thought that promise was impressive, but seeing as she hadn't responded to my email from three business days earlier, I was skeptical.  I waited until the following Monday, Sep 13, and still having received no response at that point, for the sake of our customer we decided to send him a cheque ourselves.  We didn't want him to be the one stuck waiting for a reply from the auto hauler.

To this date I have never actually spoken to or received an email from Julie.  I left another message for her on Sep 21 letting her know that we had sent the cheque ourselves and that we are expecting them to reimburse our company directly.

My only complaint here is that unfulfilled voicemail promise: "I will call you back by the end of the business day."  Most companies out there, in my experience, provide mediocre follow-up as a matter of course.  I've come to expect that as a norm.  Very rarely can you find a person or a company to whom you can assign a task and expect it to be done without at least one reminder.  I'm blessed to have a good collection of coworkers who are exceptions to this rule (although everybody has their off days).  But for third parties, I've grown accustomed to following up on all the requests I make to other people and companies with whom I work.

So if that line hadn't been there on Julie's voicemail greeting, it would have no cause to complain.  Following up with our auto hauler for this cheque would have been just another item on my to-do list, and I wouldn't have thought any less of them.  This would have been just another mediocre firm with whom we had to do business because there were no better alternatives.  But Julie led me to believe that she and her company were better than that.  With one email and two phone messages unanswered, she's proven they're not, and I'm reluctant to send any more work their way in the future.

The moral of the story: don't make a promise that you can't keep.  People notice.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, but must be on topic. Spam, hateful/obscene remarks, and shameless self-promotion will be unceremoniously deleted. Well, OK, I might put on a little ceremony when I delete them.