Disconnected Service Costs Businesses More Than Money

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Sometimes service just can’t be simple.

Following up on last week’s Monday Musings, I have another chapter in the saga to share. Unfortunately, it’s not a positive addition to the ongoing story. After praising how well the initial service had been delivered last week, I encountered some bumps in the road.

Proactive Advice
The technician had warned me. 

After performing his diagnosis, he warned me that of the two parts needed to repair my washing machine – a bolt and a completely new inner washing drum – the drum would most likely arrive damaged. In fact, he said, he’d seen cases where it took shipping three (yes, three!) separate drums before one finally arrived that worked. Sure enough, the giant carton arrived with some holes in the sides. Upon inspecting the contents, a plastic bracket had been bent and broke as I attempted to move it back into position. 

Luckily, I had been advised to watch for this. I immediately contacted the repair service and a new one was ordered. With a planned repair date of this coming Friday, my fingers are crossed the replacement drum will arrive in time.

Manufacturing Disconnected from Field
The drum had shipped directly from the manufacturer, using an every-day national delivery service. So what had happened?

The carton, as you can imagine, was large and bulky. The drum size is probably 90% of the size of a washing machine itself since brides the actual enclosure, it would be the next largest part. It is also fairly heavy. The drum was packed in a thick cardboard carton and framed in more thick cardboard to attempt to absorb the bumps along its journey. When my carton arrived, something had punched a hole in one of the sides, skirting the protective cardboard frame, and breaking a piece from the outer assembly of the drum. And now I have a defective, unusable drum sitting in my garage for my upcoming repair.

The technician’s prediction had proven accurate – raising the question why this had occurred (and likely would continue to occur). Clearly there was a problem with the packaging and/or shipping method but this information either wasn’t making it back to manufacturing or it was being ignored.

Effortless Replacement
If there’s anything positive to share from this, it was the ease by which I was able to request a replacement drum. Simply calling the repair service, I was able to convey the issue and they promptly ordered a new one. I was prepared to provide pictures of the drum to validate my claim, but the customer service person instead chose to re-order. This made me wonder after the call ended if the customer service agent had also seen this situation occur before.

Let’s hope it only takes two attempts and not three. I’m further hoping it arrives before the scheduled repair on Friday afternoon.

The Cost of Disconnected Service
Clearly the technician knew the drums were problematic to ship. The disconnect – between the technician’s knowledge and experience in the field (and possibly customer service’s) and manufacturing’s carton design – was costing the company money in broken drums and wasted shipping costs. I’d like to think there’s a disconnect there, and not that the number crunchers at the washing machine company hadn’t determined it was cheaper to simply continue to send drums until one made it unscathed. 

The bigger issue to me is the impact this has on the company’s reputation. By continually occurring, this setback has an impact on customers’ confidence in the company’s ability to execute, not to mention potentially adding new frustration if their broken washing machines are not repaired in the fastest time possible.

There will always be challenges in providing service. For companies to be successful, they can’t simply rely on doing what they’ve always done; they should always be looking for ways to address the gaps and continually improve their service delivery. This is only possible when all the parts of the business are working together – delivering connected service – with teams like customer service and field service identifying the issues, sharing them with the responsible teams, and providing a permanent resolution.

Paul Selby
I am a product marketing consultant for Aventi Group. Aventi Group is the first product marketing agency solely dedicated to high-tech clients. We’re here to supplement your team and bring our expertise to bear on your top priorities, so you achieve high-quality results, fast.

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