Cut Corners And Costs Now, Cut Customers Later

Easy-Way-OutSeveral years ago, my wife and I purchased a small house, built in the late 1950s, with loads of character. That’s code for fixer upper. One thing we absolutely didn’t want to live without was central heating and air, and apparently they didn’t need that sort of thing back in the 50s.

The house had a really old gas furnace located in a closet. We hired a contractor who then subcontracted out the HVAC work. They were charged with the responsibility of removing the old furnace and putting the new one up in our attic. I kid you not they finished the installation on the hottest day of the summer. It was glorious and worth every penny.

Some months later I decided to do some work on that old closet to make it a useful space for storing things. When I opened the door to the closet, I discovered that there was a gas pipe running right up the middle of the closet– rendering the space completely useless. In order to save time and money, the HVAC company had cut a corner on the gas line, requiring me to move it if I was going to use the closet. Fortunately, I’m handy enough that I was able to get the job done.

It’s funny. Every time I go to adjust the thermostat, I see the decal with the HVAC contractor’s name and phone number on it. I’m reminded of that incident where they cut a corner to save time and money.

As the leader of a customer service team, one of my favorite concepts is empowerment. Empowerment is about taking the extra time necessary to answer the questions the customer didn’t ask. What are the things the customer needs to know that might just prevent them from having to call back again in the future? Does this mean longer phone calls? You bet! But if the customer only has to call and listen to hold music once, and you get it right the first time, they will have positive feelings about calling in again the next time.

Business leaders both great and small, I’m calling on you right now. Are you taking the time to do the job right the first time, or are you being short sighted and cutting corners in order to save a buck now? Your customers know the difference.

Going back to my thermostat, had the HVAC company gotten it right the first time, I would probably see their name, smile, and feel confident in knowing who to call when my air conditioner needed maintenance. Instead, I see that logo, give a little smirk and say “Yeah right. I’m never calling you again.”


Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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