Category: Problem Solving

Eliminate Recurring Problems

If you could eliminate recurring problems from your business, what would your world be like?

Give us a call, we can help.
John Schneyer
Boca Consultants

Is this the Customer Service You Expect?

I am in Miami today enjoying time with Lillian and getting some work done.  One item on our list was to get Lillian a new garage door opener and someone to install it.  Sears was the supplier of choice for both the opener and installation.

Lillian looked online and found she could order the opener and installation online and then pick up the opener at her local Sears store.  This seemed convenient as she would could avoid the wait at the store by having it waiting for us when we came by at our convenience.

Great assumption, poor execution on Sears’ part.

Lillian did all the work to select the right opener by browsing the Sears site.  She compared different brands and settled on the one she wanted.  After going through all the screens to complete her offer, the last screen would not respond.  Looks like the order didn’t go through.  Or did it?  Lillian had put in her credit card information so she called Sears.

After waiting through the typical call processing automation to get to a live person, Lillian had to provide all her information again so the representative could try to help.  Name, address, phone number, e-mail address, explanation of the problem all had to be provided.

The respresentative told Lillian that her order had indeed been placed and would be ready to be picked up at the local Sears store shortly.  They would even send her an e-mail reminder.  We continued working around the house, went out for lunch, did some shopping and dropped by Sears for what we assumed would be a simple in and out process.

We arrived at Sears, parked and went into merchandise pickup.  They have a little kiosk where you have to either swipe the credit card you used or put in your order number.  Lillian swipes her card and – We Have No Record Of Your Order – comes out on the screen.  Lillian tries again while I go for a quick walk.  I find about a dozen of the exact model opener Lillian is trying to get.  Lillian finds out, the Sears system doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Two service guys come over after Lillian pushes the button to talk to an associate.  They explain that, if the kiosk doesn’t know about it, they can’t do anything.  They said that maybe it doesn’t show up if a unit has to be sent to the store.  I alert them to the openers sitting on the shelves and in the floor display.  They suggest waiting or calling to cancel the order and start over.  We can’t fault them, they didn’t design this system.

Lillian takes out her iPhone and looks for the e-mail she had received.  There’s an option for “Order Status”.  There is no status.  Lillian calls Sears and goes through the whole process of identifying herself and explaining the situation again.  Explains we are at the store waiting.

Next move?  Lillian cancels the order.  A customer overhears us and tells us the only way to get anything done at Sears is to go to the checkout counter we have been trying to avoid and get a person to help.  What a concept!  A human being instead of a computer system!

It took a while but Lillian got her opener and is scheduled to have it installed in 3 days, at her convenience.  We’ll see how that goes but at least we now have the opener sitting on the floor in Lillian’s garage.

What started out to be an exercise in saving time and gaining convenience turned out to waste time and create frustration.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  Do you ever do this to your customers?

Give us a call, we can help.

John Schneyer

Boca Consultants

How spec’s live forever

How spec’s live forever….

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5

inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did “they” use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old long distance roads, because that’s the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of the legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification of the Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specs and Bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

Have you ever asked the question “Why do we do it this way?” and received the response “I don’t know” or “We’ve always done it this way” or “This is what they told me to do”?

These responses are indications that there is room for improvement.  Sometimes dramatic improvement.

Give us a call, we can help.

John Schneyer

Boca Consultants