The importance of communication

The abilty of humans to communicate effectively is arguably our greatest asset.
It’s too bad that so many have forgotten this.

I’m not going to go on and on about Social Media, as that is so self-evidently a miasma of murkey melodrama that I could spend an entire blog on it. I  could lament the lack of  meaningful converstions in familes. Or I could bitch about friends that are late or don’t show up and never call you. But I don’t wanna.

Instead, I want to focus on our relationships with the businesses we deal with from time to time. For example:

A contractor was supposed to be at my house 5:15 PM to assess what was needed to install a storm door. He didn’t show up until 6:45, which meant I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything for that hour and a half. When I asked why he didn’t bother to call me and let me know he was running late — he had decided to stop and grab something eat, which is fine, but fucking call me — he lost his temper and decided he didn’t want to work for me. Fine, go away, the feeling is mutual.

I had to take my Kia Sportage in for repair, as it was running roughly. It was a twenty mile drive to the dealer and I got there at 8 AM. This was on September 11, 2001, by the way, so I was tense anyway. I had to spend all day there and when they finally came and got me at 4 PM, the bill, for warranty work, was ~$800.00. They had repaired the brakes (which I did not need done, it was only two years old and had less than 5000 miles on it). Had they asked me first, I would have told them no. I’m afraid I had a bit of a meltdown, but they refused to give me my car until I paid the bill. And when I got about five miles up the road, the car started running roughly again, so they didn’t even fix what was wrong with it. A waste of a sick day and a long couple of drives. I took this to my local mechanic and he fixed it in a couple of hours. When I called Kia to get reimbursed (I had bought their full bumper-to-bumper warranty) they told me I should have taken it back to the dealership. To summarize, I got a refund for one year fo that warranty, which was about eighty bucks. Lack of coommunication, again.

I wanted to replace my carpets with wooden floors, so I called one of the big companies to have this done. They were supposed to be there Monday morning at 9 AM, so on Sunday, we cleared out the livingroom (no small task). At 9:30 they had not shown up, so I called them and was told their supervisor would call me back. At 10:45 I called again and insisted I be transferred to him.
“Oh, well one of them was sick so they won’t be in today. I think I can get them there on Wednesday.”
“OK, so I think  I’ll take a refund on this and call someone else.” (I was very calm and pleasant, but firm).
“Umm, well, I’ll give you a five hundred dollar refund, if you’ll reconsider.” (More than I had expected!)
“OK fine. Wednesday then?”

Now, I am dealing with a roofer and having the same issue. I paid them half of the bill back in June; they said it would be done sometime in July, but it is now September. The only messages I got from them were sporadic and uninformative. The last call I made to them, I asked them if I made a mistake choosing them. “Oh no, no, we’ll move you to the front of the line..” That got results and they have scheduled me for later this month. Apparently, my messaging was effective. (Twenty years of doing phone support has taught me how to get things done, even if I have to wear them down.)

With cell phones, text, email, etc., there is absolutely no excuse for not keeping your customers updated. It’s easy, they will appreciate it, everyone is happy. So why not do so? If you do have to grind on a business, it is important to know a few things:

    1. Do NOT lose your temper, yell, or curse at them. This will just back them into a corner.  I know you might be frustrated, but friendly works better at the start.
    2. Before you call, organize your thoughts. Write them down it it helps. Being able to articualte exactly what you want from them helps you both.
    3. Being pleasant helps, but becoming a tad stern might help, depending on who you get.
    4. Don’t ask for a manager first thing; you are telling the representative that they are useless, right off the bat. However, don’t be afraid to ask for a manager if your first contact tries to brush you off. And don’t accept the old, “Well, they’ll just tell you the same thing, ” bullshit. You’ll be shocked at how often they will get you want they want. Management is usually under more of a crunch to satisfy the customer than the front line reps, who often don’t give a fuck.
    5. Get names. Get them to text or email you documentation of what went down. You probably will need this sometime in the future, especially if they don’t come through. But don’t ask for badge numbers; this is none of your business and many places do not want their employees giving that out.

Oh and last, but definitely not least, make sure that who you are calling CAN help you. When I worked tech support at Dell, some fella called me with an HP computer that he want me to troubleshoot; I had to decline. I also had someome call me with a ten year old computer, well out of warranty and demanded I replace it; again, declined and he went to management. Think about who you are calling first; it will save everybody time and woe.

Have you had expereinces like this? Share them below if you want.

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