Do Overs and Do Nothings!

If one is emotionally fragile (and we can all be at some point,) the overall lack of service experienced today can send us over the edge.  I wrote about this last week, and ended that article being grateful for my blessings.  I still am.  What I am writing about today is a similar subject, and I remain grateful that I have very few serious problems to complain about, and this is not one of them.  But my intent is not to complain, but to help us change things that need to be changed, including changing ourselves and some of our expectations.

We are experiencing an overall lack of service, and our time is dramatically compromised.  A few examples.  There are too many do overs and do nothings.

I am writing this while waiting for a FedEx delivery that requires a signature.  I have spent most of the day at home when I need to be out taking care of other and more important business.  Oh, I have been productive while waiting, but as the day comes to an end, my patience is wearing thin.  And since I have committed most of my day to this, I do not want to cave now and have to go through the process all over again.  Thinking that I should be able to find a reasonable time window in which the delivery will be made, I went on line and called FedEx, both to no avail. The only information available is that the package will be delivered between 8:30am and the end of the day, whatever time the end of the day is!  Unacceptable.  With today’s technology, that is amazing.  The reason I was given for no more information than this by the live voice when I was finally able to get to one (a feat in and of itself) was that the package was shipped by FedEx Ground.  So what?  Why does a major company like FedEx want to upset its customers like this?  We know they have the technology, why are they not using it?

Another example.  I called the property management association that represents our beach condo on May 19th and put in an order request to get what was obviously a live bird at that point out of our dryer vent.  I even personally told the maintenance person who would likely handle the problem about it, that I had called the association office and reported it, and filled out the required service order request.  Nothing was done by them to either fix the problem, which I found out a week later when I was back at the condo, nor did anyone communicate anything about this to me.  (The condo is in a location three hours from our residence.)  I called back on May 26th when it was obvious nothing had been done, and there was a terrible odor in the dryer.  There was no more bird chirping however, so I assumed the bird had died in the vent.  Again, I was assured someone would call me back and tell me what would be done about the problem.  Today is May 31st, twelve days later, and not only has no one from the association called me back, but nothing was done to fix the problem, other than what I did.  I reported the problem to our rental agency, and they removed the dead bird from the dryer vent.  The lack of service and information from our property management association is unacceptable.  I am upset, and sad about the bird.

One more example.  Once I can leave the house (after the FedEx delivery) later today or tomorrow, one of my errands is to take back a pair of pants that I picked up from the tailor yesterday, which still have the two tears in them that they were taken to her to repair. Too much of my time is spent dealing with do overs, and I imagine you have similar stories.  This is the last time I will use this tailor.  It is not the first time for a problem of this nature with her.  I will no longer give my money and my time to this tailor who has failed to finish garments when promised, and too often her work has not been done correctly.  She even requires payment up front, which would be fine, if the work was done on time and right.  Enough do overs with this person.  I have another tailor whose work is always right and on time, and although she is a greater driving distance away, she is more than worth the distance. I only regret that some of the money she should have made from me went to the other tailor. 

What should we do about the overall lack of service?  First, we should refuse to give our hard-earned money to companies who make it difficult for us to enjoy doing business with them. Enough of the aggravations; we should be enjoying our relationship with those we support with our business.

We should expect an occasional problem.  We are not error free ourselves, so we should expect and accept graciously an occasional service problem. 

If/when appropriate, we should communicate our concern through the right channels, which is often to management, even though doing so takes time.  The problem is often a systems problem, not a people problem, which is reinforced by a quote I have used many times: “People don’t fail, systems do.”  And if the problem is a people problem, that is often also a systems problem, such as lack of training, management, and/or accountability.  If management is not made aware of our problems doing business with them, they may not have enough information to even know there is a problem.  Yes, they should know, but shouda woulda coulda gets us nowhere.  Let’s care enough to give them the information they need.

We may also need to change some of our expectations.  Things often take longer today than they should.  What we might think should only take a day, may take two or more days, whether it should, or not.  We can choose the time frame which is reasonable to us, but let’s be realistic, otherwise we will be dealing with more negativity than is good for us.  We should monitor progress, although we shouldn’t have to.  I am reminded of a client of mine who taught me this years ago. (Thank you, Render, you were so right about the need to monitor and follow up.) Yes, things should be done as expected, but they will not always be.

Finally, we should be nice.  Even when we are not getting the service we are paying for and deserve.  Which reminds me of a saying attributed to Maya Angelou. 

“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how we made them feel.”

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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