Who am I?

Head Grunt, David “NfoCipher” Bunt - I'm a programmer..
Experience: With over 14 years professional experience both in corporate and small business environments. I'm a Linux junkie, have a healthy respect for macs, but cannot tolerate anything microsoft related. Been there, done that, never again.

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Being Proactive Instead of Reactive

2009-11-10 @ 19:30 in Business

Recently my buddies Ryan and Keith started up a new blog called Business is in the Details. It's all about how you can make your business better by providing better customer service, targeting your ads, and general nuggets of goodness that people simply forget to do over time. It didn't take me long to spot a problem with a business that was worthy of a blog post.

At a location I work at, there is cable internet. The cable was physically pulled away from the pole by an oversized truck. In the same parking lot about 50 yards away is a company that contracts service work for our cable provider. Having that line working is mission critical, so instead of calling the cable company, I simply walk down to the cable contractor's office.

I was met at the front by your typical middle aged manager type personality. I told him our internet was down because our cable is physically down. He said, “Yeah, I saw that coming in to work. Are you the one who did it?”. I told him of course not, but I need that line up as we're losing customers and money without it. “Sure, we'll fix it as soon as you call the cable company and make a service ticket.”

My blood pressure instantly jumped. In my younger years my knee jerk reaction would have gotten the better of me and I would have no doubt insulted the man by explaining to him the amount of idiocy involved to come up with just a statement. Instead age and wisdom won out and I just laughed a little and walked out.

Let's examine what's wrong here:

So after spending 45 minutes on the phone, getting transferred to multiple states (and most likely countries), I managed to convince someone that I did not need to reboot my router as I was holding the downed cable line in my hand. I was assured the problem would be fixed within 3 days. Actual repair time was completed around 1pm, but that's over half the work day. The work was of course done by the same people I visited that morning – the same company that shares my parking lot.

Here's what should have happened:

Is it so odd to expect people will proactively do something without being told first it needs to be done? Apparently yes. Sounds odd, but if you stop and think about it – happens all the time.

Entrepreneurs in general are proactive people. So proactive in fact that most CEOs do not come with an off button, but that's for another post. You need reactive people to carry out your vision, they're called employees. Most people on the planet only do something as a response to someone else. The problem is management. The job description is to balance being proactive with being reactive. An owner of a company hires management to proactively take care of certain things so the work load gets distributed. Management reacts to the people he manages and the customers that are not happy with those people.

The conclusion – my poor customer service experience is a direct result of poor management of a company that represents a bigger company. Disclaimer: I didn't like the big cable company before but my dislike has grown because of the actions of a company they employee.

Taking a step back: Reasons they didn't just “fix” the problem on sight

Whatever the reason, the damage is done and while my patronage will not make or break them, I'm often in a position of decision making when it comes to which internet carrier gets installed. They will certainly lose a few future customers I could have sent their way.