The Importance of Communication: A Lesson from the Cable Guy

May 10, 2012
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I recently had an experience that I am sure most people can relate to at some point or another, which really opened my eyes to the importance of communication.

I had to set up an appointment for the phone and cable company to come out to one of our satellite offices to install an upgraded system and update our DSL line to a fiber optic service.  I called the cable company and spoke with a representative and told them my needs.  We wanted to upgrade our service, have them hard-wire the internet connection to the sole computer in the office (opposed to wireless connection), figure out if we were currently subscribed to services that we did not really need and to see where we could lower our bill and we also had old company contact information on file, so I wanted to update this.

After about 30 minutes on the phone, I was extremely pleased with my experience.  Our contact information was updated.  We were going to save over $50 per month for even better service and we had an appointment for upgraded service in about 2 weeks when I knew we would not need the satellite office and my time was free to be there when the installation was to take place.  I immediately received a confirmation number and a confirmation e-mail.  All was set and I was happy.

The week of the installation, I received a call from my associate who was using that office.  He says that someone from the cable company is there to assess our location and make sure that everything is set for the installation that was to take place that Friday.  I was surprised to hear that he had just showed up to the office and it was fortunate for us that someone was there, because as a satellite office, we do not hold regular office hours at that location.  The cable man said he was clear about all that was needed and was all set for my installation appointment on Friday.

On Friday, I get to the satellite office and begin setting up a brand new laptop that we were installing and then I was informed by the building manager that someone had showed up late the day before to install some wires but they were unable to reach us.  I was confused.  The installation was for Friday, not Thursday.  And why couldn’t they reach me?  I had updated our contact information.

As the end of the time frame I was quoted to be available approached and I had not heard from anyone at the cable company, I began to worry.  So, I called the cable company.

To my shock and frustration, I was informed that my appointment time was listed as some 3 weeks away from that day.  What happened?

I asked to speak with someone further and after spending close to an hour and a half on the line with a customer service representative, I had scheduled the pre-installation appointment that was needed to install the hard wires (what the cable company had come to do the day before) and the installation date had been moved to Monday between 1pm and 3pm.  While still a bit uneasy and frustrated with the lack of communication on behalf of the cable company, I was pleased that they were able to work with me and ultimately deliver on what I had wanted in the first place.

Needless to say, the exact same scenario played out again on Monday.  I went there to find that they had come out to do the pre-installation on Friday afternoon and had worked with building management to get the necessary construction work to bring the lines into our suite, but come 3pm, the cable guy to finish the installation was a no-show.

I then spent another hour or so on the phone with the cable company to figure out what was going on and when we could get the installation completed.  The appointment was rescheduled again for 2 days later.  This time, I received calls, text messages and e-mail reminders about the status update of my appointment.  I received a call from a dispatcher that the cable guy was running late from prior jobs and could still make it to our location, but it would be after-hours.  We then rescheduled for the next day and after all of the different levels of frustration and wasted time, we finally got the upgraded service installed.

The point of this long, drawn-out story is that much of my experience would have been avoided had the cable company simply communicated properly with me.  Had I been told that there were pre-installation appointments required and needed prior to the appointment I set, we might have avoided this.  Had they properly updated their systems with the updated contact information I previously provided to them, we might have avoided this.  Had they kept me apprised of the status of my appointment, notifying me when things were scheduled or rescheduled without my knowledge, we would certainly have avoided a great deal of frustration that I experienced with them.

Most customers understand that things come up and sometimes appointment times need to be adjusted.  I would have been, but without any notification at all, I spent a lot of wasted time, money and gas to be there for them at days and times that they told me to be.

With the various means of technology available today, be it e-mail, text messages, voice recordings, or a simple telephone call, there is no excuse for any customer to have to go through what I did from any business that puts Customer Service on the top of its priority list.  Take the extra time to figure out what systems of communication you have in place to make sure that your customers are properly informed and that you are communicating with them in a way that sets you apart from others. And, more importantly, sets you apart from others in a good way.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Alabama.  We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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