Poor customer response

The last couple of weeks have been tough ones for Central Floridians recovering from Hurricane Irma.

Trees are down, vegetation has piled up, and everything is starting to have a musty, sulphur-like smell. But most residents are okay to deal with these consequences of the storm, it is the lack of power and internet that has been most frustrating.

Yesterday, the head of Duke Energy apologized for the lack of communication to residents as to when their power might be restored. And, as a resident without power, that was what was more irritating than not having air conditioning and refrigeration – the lack of knowing when the trucks would be coming to your area to work on the downed lines. By having an estimated time and date, it would have made it easier to make a plan on either staying or possibly leaving.

Spectrum, the cable carrier, was guilty of the same, if not worse. Customers were caught in endless loops of voice mail only to never reach a live human being who might be able to share information. If an employee was reached though, the employee had little knowledge to give the customer regarding the status of their internet returning. Once again, without communication, customers had a very hard time defining a plan for their businesses and personal life on how to operate without the use of technology.

In my work with clients over the past 30 years, when I have asked managers and staff employees “what is the biggest problem in your organization?”, I usually get the response “poor communication”. People want to know what is happening, even if the answer is not the one they really want to hear. No news is like being in a vacuum. At least with bad news, you can develop a plan to deal with the situation.

The volume of customers that both Duke Energy and Spectrum had to help in recovering services was unprecedented, but that should not be an excuse to not have a better means of communication to keep customers updated. They can spend thousands of dollars on advertising day-by-day how wonderful they are, but the time after a hurricane is when the rubber hits the road, and all that advertising comes crashing down when the customer feels left out and not cared for in the difficult times.

Poor communication reflects poor customer service.

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