Thoughts ...

This is not working

Why is this not working?’ this is what I heard and started thinking ‘Why?’ and ‘What’s not working?’.

Normally I have teams in place to address this type of request.

When placing new services in place I ensure a ‘service wrapper’ is created that covers not only the intensive support required in the initial stages of a service going into production but also during the life of the service. Looking for an easy life we all service implementations should include elements of resilience (belt and braces) for all service components where necessary.

Doctor – I’m not feeling well but I’m not going to tell the details of my symptoms – I just want you to fix it! 

What wasn’t working was obvious – it was easy to see, establishing what was the cause was the complex bit. All the right things were being done, the supplier had been informed, an investigation was undertaken and assurances were given that follow a fix – all was well.

This gives you a great sense of pleasure – a good job and well done.

Suddenly – it wasn’t all well! The VIP called again along with several pleading calls from their assistant. 

This involved a ‘change of gear’ to higher level, sometime when exasperation and loss-of-confidence sets in you end up listening calmly when you hear ‘I’m not going into the details of what I see … just fix it!‘ – This leaves you confused in what to do next except to leave it for a while, hoping for a period of calm before trying again.

I advise on escalation and following the appropriate route to increase the priority of situations, although on this occasion (there has been others) a call to the CEO of the supplier seemed to alerted these who could help us, within a couple of hours it was all working – properly this time.

This reminds me of a similar situation ‘Doctor – I’m not feeling well but I’m not going to tell the details of my symptoms – I just want you to fix it!‘  – What do you do? On reflection, I’ve always wondered what the reason for this is? 

Exasperation, annoyance, giving in … are a few possible reasons – how did we get here? Could we have done more in our role as account mangers, service providers or human beings? Could we have increased our monitoring, watching out for unusual service behavior. Always keen to covertly educating staff to be better customers has proven productive but for some it doesn’t work – I guess they see the service we provide as a utility similar to water and electricity – when you turn it on, it just works.

Look don’t get me wrong – I enjoy this sort of management, it’s a journey both good and bad – the net result is relief, one that you really can’t pay for and an increase level of energy to take anything on – these sorts of incidents provides an opportunity to turn a complainant into a supporter and friend of what you are doing. 

On reflection, the lessons learnt were (1) Monitoring is only as good as the quality and quantity of the monitoring itself, (2) ‘Belt and braces’ is great but increases complexity when it all goes wrong and (3) Don’t expect customers to tell you what the symptoms of what they see – particularly if you had more than one attempt at getting it fixed.

What would you do?


Photo credit: FindYourSearch / Foter / CC BY-SA