Volume 40,   Issue 11                      November  2005

The Farnady Files

Some Things Never Change 
Why is Good Customer Service So Difficult to Find?
by Dez Farnady

I have been off this topic for a while but since I got bit again, I figured it is time to bring it up to remind all of us how lousy we can be at ďcustomer service.Ē At every sales meeting and every company seminar we hear lectures about customer service, yet we just canít seem to get it right all the time. Maybe one of the assets of the glass business is that there are so many places to hide you can never find the right person to complain to. You will certainly never find any one who will shoulder the responsibility. 

You Know the Scenario Ö
Ö Oh, your sales rep is out in the field and he really has to take care of this problem. I guess his cell phone is not turned on because I canít reach him. The production people are in a meeting and I canít interrupt them. I will leave a message and someone will call you backósomeday. The manager will call you back as soon as he gets a chance. I just take phone orders and canít tell you anything about production schedules. The shipping department is closed; they are out talking to the drivers and canít come to the phone. I think your order is on the truck, but I canít reach the driver. I will have the driver call you. Gee, didnít your sales rep call you back? Oh, I am sorry, but I will see what I can do. I will contact the responsible people and they will get back to you. I am sorry, but I have not been able to reach him to get him the message. 

Pagers, cell phones, wireless PCs, radio telephones and all the e-mail connections in the world are available for everything you can imagine. Still, they somehow canít seem to get to the guy who knows where your missing glass is and the computer system canít find the back-order. 

The most recent bite I received is the one I got when a factory screwed up an insulating glass unit order that never even got off the truck; it took longer to replace it than it took to fabricate the original order. You are not going to believe this, but after waiting for two weeks the replacement unit came in with crap inside the unit and was instantly rejected so it, too, never got off the truck. After a month my customer and I are still waiting. You screwed it up so you can at least put the remake in the front of the line. When the confirmation comes in to tell me that I am going to wait two weeks for a lousy replacement IG unit that the factory damaged, I come unglued and make sure I get on the phone every day for a week. It did not do a bit of goodótwo weeks it was. The last time I took the trouble to find the plant manager. I did not want to embarrass him, I just wanted my glass. I have had the invoice for it for a month. My customer, of course, thinks I am lying to him and am some kind of a son-of-a-no-good-you-know-what because his customer is bleeding all over him, and itís all my fault.

Whatever Happened to Customer Service?
Then there was the job from hell just a few weeks ago Ö with the one lite of glass that just canít be made. The first one has dirt in it, the remake is scratched and the third piece has voids in the coating and the next piece has sealant inside the unit. Sorry pal, I am not stupid. I know what is within industry tolerances and what is not. Show me the spec that says crap is allowed inside the unit. When the vendor then tells me that he will not remake that piece of glass for me againóI have to remind him that I did not order all the crap he had been shipping me. I just want him to supply me with one clean unit. Donít cry to me if your shop canít make a unit without beating the crap out of it. All I wanted was one clean insulating unit just the way I ordered it. It is not my fault, so stop crying and call the church for an exorcist.  

The Author:
Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly.

© Copyright 2005 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.