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Customer Service: Where the Buck Stops

These last two weeks have been a real-life lesson in customer service for me.

While you have people competing for your business every day (Starbucks or Caribou, Firefox or Chrome, iPhone or Droid) — the competition seems to get a little more ‘in your face’ when you purchase a new home. You need internet, cable/dish, blinds, hot water… the list goes on and on.

We needed a water softener: We had two companies out to give us a free estimate. Company “A” gave us an okay estimate and presentation, only to drop the ball on our install date (didn’t even call us!), while Company ‘B’ gave a very thorough sales presentation, personalized estimate, and followed through by showing up to do the install on time.

Here’s the problem: The water softener didn’t fit.

Service guy blames the sales guy, management blames the sales guy, sales guy blames the service guy. Where does the buck stop?

I was fuming. Here I’ve taken two mornings away from the office to get a water softener installed — and both times the service provider drops the ball.

That’s when I heard something about as refreshing as I’ve ever heard:

After hearing me go off on a 3 minute rant on how I felt this was poor service, the service tech (the lowest paid of the folks I dealt with) says, “Sir, I want to apologize. You shouldn’t have to deal with this.”

I told him it wasn’t his fault — and that he should know I’m not upset with him personally. To which he responds:

“You know what, I wear “Company ‘B'” on my shirt — so yes, it is my fault. We failed — and so I failed. We need to make this right”.

I was shocked at the sincerity of this guy. While the management and sales people were busy telling me how they’ll “fix the other guy’s mistake”, the low man on the totem-pole (service guy) says, “Hey, here’s my card. I’m going to make sure you don’t have to take any more time off work. I can work late Wednesdays and Fridays — I’m going to personally make sure you get the water softener installed”

This guy didn’t stand to make a dime on my sale. But he was the one who kept my business. Instead of focusing on who was messing up, the service focused on me – the customer. As upset as I was with the company, this service guy saved the day… and ultimately saved the sale.

What does that tell me about customer service? Keep the focus on the customer — at all levels. What are their concerns? What do they want to know?

At CATS, we try to accomplish this through the forum. We’re open, honest, as responsive as we can be, and most importantly: focused on the customer.

We hope that this focus on the people that matter will keep our customers coming back!

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