Friday, December 16, 2011

Does the squeaky wheel always get the grease?

For as long as I can remember, the axiom above has been with me.squeaky wheel Translated for my purposes it means that if you don’t say anything about a problem, it will never be fixed. Granted, there might be times that it is inappropriate or not essential to raise the flag. However, if we do not say something, can we ever expect any improvement? For this reason, almost anytime I order something or request a repair, I document when, who and what was requested, and the results of the request. It isn’t that much work, but it sure removes the “I don’t remember” problem if I have to follow up.

I am not talking about complaining every time something goes wrong. I am focused on the times that a problem or negative situation does not improve even though you have tried your best to resolve it. At times like this, when you have tried over and over to resolve the situation, it might be time to let someone know who has the authority or responsibility to correct the issue.

dsl-works An example: Recently I was having a service issue with my DSL service. I had been patiently working for months with the provider, but the problem could not be corrected for a couple of major reasons. I raised my concern to a manager ... not in a negative way, but in a problem solving mode using this example:
  • This is the problem (explained in detail from my perspective)
  • These are my issues/concerns as a result of this problem
  • Here are their issues that I am aware of (a way to show I understand their issues also)
  • Then I ask the question or solicit their help ... “What can ‘we’ do to resolve this problem? “

Early this week the workmen from the telephone company were testing the lines in our neighborhood. While I was walking my dog I stopped to see what was going on. The supervisor stepped forward and said they were trying to resolve the DSL transmission issues in the neighborhood. He then surprised me by saying that they wanted to test the changes they were making to see if my service is improved. He commented that he had heard my concerns and he now believed they could correct the problem.

Wonderful! “The grease was working”

broken wheelchair Another example: Over the last five months I have had what I consider terrible repair service on my wheelchair. Back in July it took three weeks to repair the seat bracket. During that time I had to use a MDA loaner chair. It was okay, but it wasn’t my chair nor was it compatible with my van. At the time I raised the concern I was having with the district manager.

A month ago I had a small issue with the footplate of my chair. I asked to have the part (a 3” friction pin) sent to me and I would install it myself. I couldn’t see waiting or paying for a service call for something I could replace in about two minutes. It has been 31 days and I still do not have the part. To make matters worse, about two weeks after I ordered the 3” pin, my neurologist calls me and asks for information on the chair so he can approve the request ... validate the need for the repair. I found it impossible to believe that my doctor had to approve a request for a small replacement part.

I decided that these service failures ... in my opinion ... needed to be elevated to someone with responsibility for the service. So, I wrote the regional vice president this morning.  I apologized for having to bring the problems to his attention  Commented that I know there are three sides to every story (customer, company and the facts of what actually happened)  Explained why I felt it was in his best interest to understand what I am experiencing just in case I was not the only one having problems. I outlined my concerns in the cover letter  Summarized the issues in the first attachment  Detailed every contact and response (using my notes) in another attachment.

Now, I’ll wait and see what happens.

No, the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease, but if they don’t hear the squeaking they will never know it needs to be greased.

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