Why can’t service providers keep their clients in the loop when things go awry!

My newest book, A Time to Creep, A Time to Soar: Lessons learned for work and life from climbing Kilimanjaro, is doing so well that my inventory ran out in five months! A lovely “complaint.” So it went to second printing three weeks ago, with my publisher promising delivery on Friday, August 29. This allowed plenty of time for me to reship cases to a number of my autumn clients for their annual conferences’ SWAG Bags (a. k. a. “Stuff We All Get” “goodie” bags). Here-in in lies my rant on poor customer service:

The independent transport company delivering my 20 cases on August 29 couldn’t commit to a time until the day of. (Why, I can never understand, but there you have it—the customer as “hostage” once again.) Noting this, I planned my whole day around waiting and receiving.

I called the transport company first thing the morning of the 29th and was told good news—my shipment would be delivered in the a.m. Great, I thought. I’ll hold off on my morning shower and not go anywhere, not even to the back garden to water plants, until they’ve arrived (for we all know delivery people typically knock once, wait 30 seconds, then take off, leaving a “we were here and you weren’t” stickie on the door).

By noon they’d not arrived, so I called. They were behind and I should now anticipate delivery by 1 p.m. Oy vey, my morning shower deferred again. One o’clock comes and goes, then 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. I should have called earlier, but I remained patient, not wanting to be a pest and still confident that my books would arrive shortly. By 4 p.m. it was more than time to call again. This time the same pleasant young man (I could tell he was young by his voice and manner) sheepishly said the truck broke down and my books would not be delivered today after all, but rather, Tuesday!

Tuesday? Sheesh! I’d planned my entire business day, deferring meetings and other off-site activities that I should have been doing, to receive this shipment. Now it’s not coming? Well, suck it up Nina, __ __ __ __ happens! I can accept that, because, indeed, unforetold things do happen and plans get hijacked. That’s life. What I can’t accept (at least not without a little pushback and feedback), are service providers who don’t keep their clients in the loop when things go awry!

“Was anyone going to tell me my shipment wasn’t arriving today? How do you even know if I’m available on Tuesday?! Does anyone there train or at least instruct your staff and drivers on how to keep your clients happy and in the loop? After all, your clients are the reason your company exists and there are plenty of other transport companies out there. Does anyone there care???” These were my pointed and measured challenges to this young frontline man. The poor thing, he had no answers and took well my hits on behalf of his company. All he could do was agree and apologize prettily. Which he did. What else was there to say or do? They held all the cards (and books!) and I was left to surrender to rearrange the rhythm and productivity of yet a second business day… and take a 4:30 p.m. “morning” shower. I may not have received my books Friday, but at least I was able to “clean up my act” to start a lovely last long weekend of the summer. Tuesday is another day. One hopefully filled with a “shower” of Time to Creep, A Time to Soar books!

Happy Labour Day to you, and September to follow, to all!

Nina

P. S. And if you are in a position of official leadership and/or influence, remind and refresh your colleagues and staff of the value and importance—yes, even in this day and age—of picking up the phone and keeping clients/all interested and invested parties in the loop, especially when snags and delays occur. It will go untold miles (or kilometers) in keeping them loyal and forgiving.

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