During my various interactions with customers requesting assistance about issues bothering them while using a technology oriented product, it very easy to gain appreciation as most of the time it is just a simple thing which fixes the problem.
The problem lies with the way we purchase a product for a functional use but has added features and service that sometimes one really doesn’t need. We as customers are guilty of buying a product that starts either by plugging it into an electrical outlet and start it by pressing a few buttons, and now -a few touch n swipes. Tell me how many of us actually read the user manual in detail before we overcome by the urge to the ‘new thing’ started.
There is another side to the problem as well, the guys who sell these products do not connect themselves beyond the basic functionality of it. To illustrate better I would like to list a conversation between a lady and a salesman I her heard at an electronics shop. The lady wanted to buy a set of security cameras. “things could happen you know?” She told me as she sees my attention while I was waiting to be attended by another salesman. The salesman helping the lady, pulled out 2 different boxes of products available at the difference in the price between two was not much.
The lady wanted the one her friend had purchase six months ago, unfortunately the company had come out with modified versions. The suave salesman was smartly dodging the questions the lady had about the product’s features, the one she’d seen at her friend’s home. Acceptable since the product was no longer in circulation. What disappointed me though was his inability to position the advantages of the product he was selling. The height was the lady wanted 2 of them but the lack of confidence of salesman emerged in him suggesting she takes one for trial and come back again. To which the lady replied she leaves 50 miles away. Worst even, there was sticker on the box which offered 50% off on the second if customers buy one which seemed to escape either one’s attention.
While it is very easy to criticize the salesman, I would go further to state that the root problem is the total disconnect some people have with their products/ process and work(job). When the sole objective to take up an assignment is to earn eight hours of wage this problem is going to remain. This is more prevalent amongst some of the fast turnover (in numbers of completion or close rates) professions. Because they are lucky having to assemble or sell heavily advertised brands which create a pull there is little connect and more monotony.
I would like to share here an interesting anecdote of how quality suffers due to the disconnect on the job. Once while consulting an engineering firm on quality improvements, I happened to visit their workshop. The analysis of past one year’s complaints, revealed that most of them were related manufacturing defects emerging within six months. Since the company gave one year’s warranty the free replacement and return shipping cost was too high. Being in the business since 3 generations and a reputation to stand for, the company never compromised with the quality of raw materials and all ancillary parts were sourced of standard quality from most reputed vendors. Then why such high rate of rejects?
The first thing that struck while entering the shop floor was the loud blaring of radio. The shop floor was well maintained, workers were diligently working on the assembly line. Everything was the way it would be on a shop floor of an successful engineering company.
Back in the boardroom I happened to ask the HR Manager “is the radio on workshop given by the company ? “ The poor fellow did not know what to reply in front of his bosses. So the owner answered himself, we’d hired a consultant from ‘A’ leading pharmaceutical company to improve productivity. It was her suggestion that some music will motivate the workers and increase productivity and it did help.
Everyone was uncomfortable due to a moment of silence and wide smile on my face. I explained that in an engineering firm a machine operator or assembly line person has to apply all his senses including eyes and ears. When a screw is tightened it makes a sound which tell the fitter to stop before his hand turning the spanner meets with a resistance. Now this was an educated guess but it fixed the problem. Because of the blaring of radio, workers were not fully attached to their work and some functions were being assumed like 5 turns are enough to fit a screw or so much pressure is good enough to lock a joint. But they were missing the “click”. So, for all those guys in customer service may it be as an owner or employee don’t miss the click!