Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thoughts On... Customer Service

Two months ago, I started working on getting some training to update my coding skills so I might be able to land a job writing software. After jumping through some hoops to get into the program, I was faced with a unique and distinct challenge: picking a training program to attend. The training was funded through the NH Unemployment office and they gave me a list of three schools in the area that were approved for the funding and had the proper classes for my training needs. Two of them were close to me; the third about 30 min away. I was told that I had two weeks to determine which school's program I wanted to attend.

After that Monday meeting, I went home and called the three schools. I left messages for Programs A and C. Program B, the far one, had a real live human being that I spoke to and told my training goals.

Program A: They called me back within an hour of getting my message. They made an appointment for the same day. They walked me through their facility and their available classes. They told me that that it would take a week to finalize the schedule for my specific training needs. I'd have it by Friday to take to the Unemployment office.

Program B: I got a call back on Thursday to arrange for a conference call the following Tuesday to get a better idea of what training options I was looking for.

Program C: Never called me back.

At the end of the first week, I had an email with my recommended class schedule from Program A. Given that Program B was a 30 min drive away and in the same week, couldn't even get their act together to give me a list of available classes, I dropped them from consideration.

I went to my meeting at the Unemployment office and told them what had happened and that I was choosing Program A. Per state regulation, I was required to speak to at least THREE schools. And so, Program C was back on my radar. I had some personal stuff & some interviews going on so I had to delay the meeting a few days. The appointment was set for Thursday.

When I went in, I got a bad vibe at the start. There was no one at the front desk, and there was a security camera aimed at the front door. That tells me that having no one there to receive people is the norm. The rep for the program came out and we had a very good talk. They went over their program, and gave me a great deal of detailed information. He answered my questions with ease. I asked about the class schedule for me and he told me that it would be ready by that evening. I made it a point to mention that I had an appointment on the following Monday and I needed the schedule for that meeting. The rep agreed.

I didn't get the Schedule that night. I sent an email on Fri morning asking about the status and reminding them I needed it by Monday. I was informed that they were "putting the finishing touches" on it. That was at 10am. By 8pm on Fri, I still hadn't received the schedule. As of Monday morning, I didn't have the schedule. In fact, I didn't receive it until about 10 min before my meeting with Unemployment.

I still went with Program A. Getting the schedule on Mon would have been fine, except that I was promised the training list on Thur. Program C failed on the initial callback, didn't have a proper reception, and failed on their promise of delivery. All the positive energy they built up in the face to face meeting has been lost.

Needless to say, I didn't choose Program C.

So, after looking at the three schools, my initial decision still stands. Program A wins. The people at Program A presented themselves well, received me at their facility well, and delivered on their promises.
People always wax poetic about how important customer service is. When I was in retail, it was all my managers would talk about. In the end, it's true. And part of customer service is delivering on what you promise your customers, ESPECIALLY when it's a POTENTIAL customer. Program C had a MASSIVE fail. And, now that the funding is approved, my training with Program A starts next Monday!!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! Now your plans for world domination can commence.

    Oh, and yes, Program A sounds tops in my book. Glad you went with them -- and GOOD LUCK!

    When you're designing popular apps and need a writer, you know where to find me! :)