Customer Service Lesson

This week I spent several hours on unanticipated work caused by an as-yet unidentified fault at one of our service providers. I won’t delve into details (nor name the provider), but I will state that the end result was a that I had a large number of clients who were extremely upset, and for the second time this calendar year, our service provider has egg on their face.

Thus, I have been not only attempting to keep up with my current workload, but I’ve been placating the understandably irritable clientele, and trying to wrangle answers and a solution out of the service provider. As I write this, I have managed the former — clients placated, problem solved.

Resolving the exact cause at the service provider is what remains to be done.

Now, let’s hypothesize for a minute, shall we? You’re the service provider. You’ve just signed a new two-year contract with a Fortune 500 company who has been touting your services for the last two years. You’ve already royally screwed the pooch this summer and that led to a high-visibility shitstorm inside the aforementioned Fortune 500 company. You’ve angered the company’s subject matter expert and caused him to do a ton of extra work this week — a week in which he already was severely lacking for time. So you’re doing the obvious thing and trying to track down the root cause, so you can ensure that the issue won’t happen again. Is your best course of action to a.) work your ass off to find the solution internally so that you can provide both an answer and a guarantee that it won’t happen again, or b.) ask the subject matter expert1 inside that Fortune 500 company to do half the analysis for you?

If you answered “a”, you are correct in your customer service fu. If you answered “b”, you just did to me what the service provider did to me.

I mean, who asks that? “Oh hi, I know we dropped the ball on our end, but could you go in and run some analysis for us so we can track down the fault in our system?”2

Chutzpah. Pure chutzpah.


1. That SME would be the author of this post.
2. The answer here, of course, is a very polite “no” when something much more unprofessional is warranted.