A recent experience I had as a customer has challenged my heretofore rigid insistence that I won't buy from companies who provide poor customer service. I've since gone over the situation in my head several times and each time I come to the same conclusion: Sometimes the human element, with all its foibles, is more compelling than skills, procedures, and best practices.
Here's the story…
I called a local business to get a bid on replacing two broken window panes and putting new screens on several windows. It took a few days of back-and-forth messages to get an appointment set (perhaps the first red flag), but the bid was fair so I hired them to do the work.
They told me they would return to the house in a few days to complete the job. They didn't. A few days turned into a few weeks. Some start-and-stop work then stretched the simple job to a month and a half. Along the way, measurements were lost, calls weren't returned promptly, and large shards of broken glass fell into my home.
On paper, it was a customer service nightmare. But that's the thing—it wasn't on paper. Despite breaking several cardinal rules of customer service, the proprietor and his scruffy work crew were oddly compelling with their charming accents, exuberant personalities, and an obvious zeal for the business of windows and screens. Three ticks in the likeability column.
Add to that the fact that I enjoy supporting small, independent businesses (especially ones which happen to be in my neighborhood), and all I could do was stand by as my 15-year commitment to customer service evangelism went mute.
One of the key principles in Impact's HEART Model™ is "respect diversity." In this case, I decided that diversity means there's more than one way to get the job done. Maybe respecting diversity also means allowing myself to be simultaneously shocked and satisfied with the service I receive as a customer.