A Service Vacuum

Mark Mayberry

Lisa didn't want to go - and now I know why. In our town of Woodstock, GA, there is a small retail store that specializes in vacuum cleaners - and their accessories. The last time Lisa went there, she had a bad service experience. So, guess who got to go there this time...

You guessed it - me! I walked into the store, not really remembering that Lisa had sent me because of her previous bad experience. I saw two salespeople, one standing in front of the counter (a male), the other (a female) counting the cash drawer.

The greeting was OK, but it went downhill after that. The guy told me that the bags came in two different package sizes and that the best value was to buy the larger pack. I hesitated, so he offered me a $2 discount if I chose the larger bag. Fair enough, I agreed.

I then asked about replacing the belt and figured that he would offer to check my current vacuum belt to see if I needed a new one. He was happy to do this - for an additional $10. (That would include a 10-minute cleaning.) I also asked about replacing the filter (which was visible), and he showed me a filter that he said was the one I would need. One small problem - I would have to cut it to make it fit. The filter was in a regular plastic baggie with a hand-written sales tag on it. Very unprofessional, especially with my having to cut the filter to fit.

I decided to buy the larger size package of the bags and the filter but not the replacement belt. The guy was clearly unhappy that I had turned down the $10 service. He decided to have the woman ring up my sale and proceeded to get on the telephone.

This began part two of the "Negazzam." The woman rang up the sale and did not give me the $2 discount on the bags. I pointed this out to her, and she agreed to deduct the $2, pretending she forgot. (Yeah, right!)

The entire experience gave me the creeps. Nothing major, just a "we're going to try and slip something by you" with every step. Now I know why Lisa doesn't like to use this shop.

Here's another "service vacuum": mail-in rebates. What are these about anyway? I can only think of two reasons why these exist - the company that gives the rebates is trying to trick you into giving them your contact information - or they bet that you'll be too lazy to fill out their stupid forms. More than once, I've taken the time to fill out these forms and sent them in - and never did get the actual rebate.

Don't leave your Customers in a "service vacuum."

The Shazzam Challenge:

Are there "service vacuums" in your organization? If so, what can you do to "sweep them away"?

The Shazzam Extra:

Mark Wilson is a professional golfer that had gone 10 years and 111 straight tournaments without a win. For 10 straight years, he was forced to play in the PGA's Qualifying School in order to be able to play in PGA events. (It's my opinion that this is the most challenging tournament in any sport.) Needless to say, Wilson was desperate to break those streaks, but not desperate enough to break the rules.

During the second round of the 2007 Honda Classic, Wilson was near the top of the leader board when his caddy, Chris P. Jones (his nickname is "Crispy") accidentally told his opponent's caddy that Wilson had just hit an "18 degree hybrid." It would have been easy for Mark to pretend that he did not hear this rules infraction, but Wilson would have no part of that. He promptly notified a rules official of the violation and assessed himself a 2-stroke penalty.

In professional football, baseball and basketball, there are countless stories of athletes that are constantly in trouble with the law or who simply don't adhere to their coaches' rules. These 3 sports have referees (or umpires) to monitor the play during the games. In golf, it's rare that a rules official has to penalize a player befor the player penalizes himself. When an official does initiate a penalty, it's usually because a player siimply didn't know the rule. (Gold has many confusing rules. It also have several "unfair" rules, such as hitting your ball exactly where you aimed - the fairway - and ending up in a divot that was made by a previous player. The ball must be played where it lies.)

This story has a "Cinderella ending." Wilson rolled in a lot of long putts during Sunday's final round, tied 3 other golfers at the end of "regulation" (72 holes), then won the tournament on the 3rd playoff hole. Integrity - make sure it's part of your company's "game" of business.

Mark Mayberry is president of the Mayberry Group and author of Building the Dream Workforce.
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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