Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Technician Who Left Me Wishin'

Today's Hump Day Hmm asks "when and how do I use my words?" and Julie was kind enough to propose several scenarios to elaborate on.

Her first and fourth scenarios each remind me of stories from my own experience. I want to relate the story that came to mind because of her fourth, since it ties in well with the general theme of my blog dealing with my working life.

Technician Who Leaves Me Wishin'
My office relies on phones more than anything, though computers have become a close second. We make our living communicating with shippers and drivers, easing the correspondence between the two we have helped come together. We are, after all, a broker of freight.

Several years ago, we had several instances of needing some technical assistance from the phone company because of lines going down or individual phones going down. Each time we called, one of two men tended to respond. One man always seemed to solve the problem quickly and effectively, and we rarely needed him to return for the same issue he had previously solved. The other man almost always required a follow-up visit from the first to solve whatever else he managed to screw up, along with the original problem. Because of this continued record of disservice, I finally decided to make a specific request when I called for support. I talked to the manager of the local phone company directly and asked him to send the competent man, explaining I had always been pleased with his service.

Not long after my call to the manager ended, I was greeted by an obviously irate technician - the second man. He threw open the door of my office and began his visit with the words, "So I hear you don't want me workin' on your phones anymore?"

Given his obviously excited state, I decided to calm him down with an explanation that veered away from my dissatisfaction. Yes, it could easily be construed as a lie, but I mainly avoided the topic of his competence. I simply explained that it would be fine for him to work on the system. I had simply requested the other man, but I needed help and would take what I could get. It would not have surprised me if the man had gone in and torn out my phone system to spite me, but to his credit, he went to work on it instead. Once he left, I placed another call to his manager.
"I did not ask you to tell [the man I didn't want] that I did not want him," I explained, rather calmly I recall despite my agitation. "I wanted [the first man] to come because he gets it done right. I do not appreciate how this situation was handled."

Ever since, I am fairly certain we have always been serviced by the first man I wanted, or by another man who came to work for them later who is equally competent. Rarely have I been more displeased with how a service company handled a request I made. When people I deal with ask me not to refer their business to a particular employee of mine, I simply comply with the request in the hopes of a continued relationship. If they explain some problem they have with a particular employee, I admit that I have often had cause to take notes on their concerns and convey them to the employee in question. I do not recall ever forcing the specific employee on the displeased customer, though.

And for the record, I am not sure if the man who came in with such fury solved my problem or not. I do recall the first man coming the next day, which suggests he did not manage to get it done. Without any grisly details here, I will just say the second man is no longer employed by my phone company.

-- Robert


Julie Pippert said...

See, I think company's need to appreciate---as hard as it might be---customer feedback like that. I'm sure you were constructive, and that should have been handled SO much better. Imagine telling that guy---ugh! At least you got it resolved.

The maid situation was largely a real event. I did ask for the first set of ladies back because the second set was doing so poorly, but I focused, simialrly to you, on that the first set was so good.

But the service remained err less than pleasing.

I didn't say anything further.

I always worry about being at the mercy of, in a vulnerable position (people in my home, access to my things) to people who are angry at me complaining about them. KWIM?

Like servers spitting into food.

Julie Pippert said...

Hello companies not company's ARGH, sorry for goof LOL.

Anonymous said...

There were two instances in my last job where I mentioned to supervisors that work was not performed up to par and poof the employees were fired. Apparently I had been the straw that broke the camel's back both times. I have felt guilty about it and people started calling me the kiss of death. But when it comes to business, things have got to get done! You handled it well, the other company clearly didn't, but this guy was probably going to hear about it anyway and try to take it out on the nearest person.

BTW, I left you a reply on Melissa's post regarding your racist ex-friend.

Robert said...

Julie, I know just where you're coming from on feeling hamstrung by needing a service and not wanting recourse if you complain. I was seriously concerned that day the man could destroy my phones.

I didn't want it in the main post, but the man committed suicide a year or two later. I don't hold myself responsible or anything, but I think he obviously had some stability issues. I didn't get him fired, if that's what I implied. I think he may have quit or been fired some time later, but it was not just because of me.

Thanks for the reply to the racism comments. I'll look on Melissa's blog and comment there.

thailandchani said...

Aaah. Yes. Blowback. That's another thing I hadn't considered. I am so completely out of the social politics arena that these things often escape me.

melissa said...

I had stuff like that happen to me in my past life. I always hated being the bearer of bad stuff, but sometime s ya just gotta do it.

Both posts were great!

Robert said...

Yep, sometimes you just have to do it. I've found it's generally best to suck it up and do it earlier rather than later, too. Then the fire has less time to build.