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A Rework Epidemic

I ran into a spate of it last week. Not that I – or you – don’t get it in the teeth all the time.
My summer car was in for “being put to bed’ service. “Needs new tires.” OK, it’s a rare tire. They can find 3 – one has to be couriered in. Fine, I’ll come for the car tomorrow. I book the time to do that.
I call then. No tire. Take car back. The courier decided to deliver it at 4:30 a.m… They actually tore a strip off the service writer later -when he called them – why wasn’t he there to take it? No one in the courier outfit can say which of the two warehouses the tire is now in. No track, no delivery.
Finally, next day, tire is delivered at 7. Take car over after several timing calls. Disrupt whole schedule for service bays by having tire installed first in the morning rush of customers booked for that day. Delay all of them.
That was one of several – that day1 next… Pick up pants at tailor. Suspender buttons. Forgot to add them when the trouser length was adjusted after purchase. Have to return them on discovery and come back next day.
Health care supply delivery. Wrong size of appliance. 2nd order in a row wrong. Elaine has to go back in person to store 5 miles away. Purpose of “delivery” absolutely negated.

Philip Crosby wrote a book called, “Cost of Quality”. You can’t find it now except in an old book store. It came from a body of work called “Total Quality”. It was a movement in biz. A movement that desperately needs to be reinstated before we drown under a sea of gratuitous friction, delay, frustration and cost ALL OF WHICH IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY AND SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.   Not by getting mad – ranting at front line people is a pointless indulgence. It’s not the people. They are generally trying their best, overworked and under supported. IT’S THE SYSTEM they work in, the TRAINING they never got and the totally absent SUPERVISION they need.

Simple shoddy customer service – in the frustrating un-fulfillment of simple, straightforward needs. People in front line positions who are not equipped with solid process or can’t be bothered to follow them and delivering bales of extravagant downloaded cost and bad feeling onto consumers and stunning costs to their enterprises.   It is so common now, it’s not just epidemic [= widespread] but endemic [=so worked into us we just expect it and put up with it].

Now you may be saying, “Not here”! But I know otherwise. I hear the stories from organizations large and small, from Presidents of the big and the mid-market. You tell the losses, the inefficiencies, the raw cost. Just listen to your own complaints. Mess ups not foreseen or fixed – and happening in the first place. They’re universal.

The cure is known. Unfortunately, it is inconvenient and out of step with our impatient age. Unless you’re in a conscious enterprise with a few people who can count and who HATE WASTE.

Crosby advanced a devastatingly simple idea. At the end of your customer service [or other process], a supplier will end up delivering the quality of what was committed to. I got my tire. I got my pants. I got my supplies. Eventually. My inconvenience was just part of it – but lets look at the cost to the biz. Instead of one customer contact leading to satisfaction the first time, the biz has multiple calls from me. Which necessitate follow up and reporting back. Remedial steps to rectify problem.

Crosby said “Just track the cost of finally getting there!” Count up the time lost on screw ups, fix up call-outs, cost of redo’s, and warranty work to fix what gets delivered wrong. These are direct to the heart shots at the bottom line. Irrevocably lost, pointlessly wasted money and effort. And don’t think that wasted efforts don’t cost money. Higher staff costs. Overheads. Not to mention the horrible losses in reputation with customers you may want to have back. And the destroyed morale of people who have to work in an atmosphere of fixing constant F*&k ups.   Use that data to drive UPSTREAM SYSTEM CHANGE. Fix the training. Institute the supervision. OR PAY AND PAY AND PAY.

Just look at the tire situation. While the service writer could have been getting on with the next profitable customer, he is now throwing time away by calling, making revised arrangements, rebooking and pissing off good customers, doing things over that had been done once already. And think of the courier! One totally wasted trip driving to a corner of the city – fruitlessly – and then back again the next day. Someone hunting around in a vast warehouse. This was a major courier. Don’t think they’re immune. Do you think couriers can make money delivering everything twice?

Enough of the rant. More on the cure next time.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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