Being in the newspaper distribution business with dozens of carriers, multiple newpaper dealers and quite a few newspaper machines, I often get complaints from people about the service our company gives them.
Papers end up in peoples gutters or shrubs, papers get wet or they are late. Sometimes some pretty odd things happen to papers too, like when dogs or animals carry them off.
Service is the goal of our company. We really offer no other product to our subscribers and advertisers. And when we fall down in some way, we try very hard to make it up and not do it again.
People often walk away from poor service at a business and often the proprietor doesn't even know it happen. As has been said many times, people vote with the pocketbooks on whether businesses are good or not.
For most managers their biggest worry is how their employees treat and service their customers. Unless the supervisor is on the scene for every encounter between someone working for them and the customer that comes in the door (or whose door they go to) he or she can't be sure things worked out the way they should have.
That's what happened to me last week. In preparation for a business trip, I needed to have my company vehicle serviced, and quickly. I had procrastinated about getting it done, and only had a few hours in which to do it and the places I normally take it were booked up. So I went to a place where they guarantee it done in only a few minutes.
I dropped the vehicle off and left to go to a nearby store where I had some other business to transact. I came back about 15 minutes later and the vehicle was done, just as promised. I was pleased because I had a busy schedule that afternoon. I paid the attendant, went out and got in the vehicle and drove away.
That evening as I was getting ready to leave town my wife pointed out that someone had tracked grease all through the house. My shoes were the first to be suspect (because somehow she has become of the belief that something like this usually comes from me) and upon checking them we found that I did have grease on them. But I couldn't figure out where it had come from.
Later in the evening I was hanging clothes in my vehicle and I happened to glace at the front drivers floor mat and the mystery of the grease was ended. There on the mat were tracks of someone who had pulled the car out of the garage after it had been serviced. Tracks of dirty, black grease. Of course I should have noticed as soon as I got in the car, but sometimes the business of the mind overcomes the obviousness of reality.
I took the mat out, and my wife sprayed degeaser on it and then washed it. It came out, but the mat will never be the same. More importantly, neither will my opinion of that place. After giving such good service, the hard work they put in was destroyed by a little mistake that leads me to believe I will probably never go back to that place again.
A little thing? Maybe. But after scrubbing carpets in the house, a floor mat and cleaning off the shoes that I had intended on wearing the next day, I started to add up the time. I usually change my own oil in my own vehicles and I could have actually saved time by having done the company vehicle myself, and had it only cost the paper the price of oil and a filter.
I have heard many people complain about service of various kinds over the years in Carbon County. Most of the time the complaint materializes into someone either spreading the bad word or they themselves never returning to the establishment, leaving the manager to wonder why business has dropped off.
Supervisors often have to operate in the dark when it comes to these kinds of things. So as I have thought about this incident in the last week, I am going to contact the manager of that business and tell he or she what happened. That way they can solve the problem at their place of business and hopefully keep it from happening to someone else, thereby affecting their business.
Everyone in this county is in the economic mix and we should work together to improve it. That means reporting the good (hopefully often) and the sometimes the bad (when it is legitimate) in a mature and constructive way. Knowing what is wrong is the best way to improve a product or a service.
None of us in business like to hear complaints from customers, but not hearing them is much worse in the long run.