Corporate Incompetence

November/10/2011 16:13PM
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Every day I marvel at the degree of corporate incompetence that exists in this tough economic environment. I will share three recent examples.

First, everyone’s favorite, the cable company. I saw a survey of lost productivity due to employees taking time off work to handle service problems at home, and, no surprise, cable companies were number one. Employees took more time off to meet Larry the cable guy to get something fixed or installed than for any other home requirement.

Here’s the brilliance of Cox Cable. I have their telephone service in Arizona. Arizona may be second to Florida in the number of snow birds who use cable part of the year and are gone elsewhere the rest of the year. Larry the Cable Guy himself could tell management that the time of the year when most are gone is the dead of summer when it’s 110 degrees.

Cox decides to change the system for voice mail. When do they implement the change, June 22nd? How do you implement the required changes? You must use the home phone, you can’t follow their requirements from any other phone. So, every snow bird has their voice mail completely cut off from June 22 until they return to their Arizona residence. In many cases, that’s January. Nice work, Cox, a lot of thought must have gone into that decision. What did I do? I usually keep the Cox bundle all year round and pay the freight, since they penalize you for breaking that contract and shutting down service. Since I can’t get phone messages, I just cancelled everything. They lose cable and Internet due to the great decision they made on the phone conversion. It would be interesting to know how many other snow birds did something similar? How many revenue dollars they lost due to this one act of incompetence?

Next, it’s Best Buy. They have a new competitor in Chicago, HH Gregg. We decided to shop both when we were redoing our home theater system. Both are in the same shopping strip, not more than 400 yards apart. HH Gregg had just opened. They opened without training. The only person who could make any decision was the manager, the man in the suit.

It was entertaining to watch. He had a big line of employees and customers following him all over the store. He was working the cash register while 10 employees watched. Customers who were shopping for big ticket items were leaving while he handled the transaction for a DVD. My wife and I spent 45 minutes there trying to get an estimate for a complete home theater. Only the manager could do anything and he was a full-time cashier since no employee could ring up anything.

Down the street to Best Buy we went. Best Buy is having financial troubles. They are selling assets and fighting tough competition from Costco and WalMart. The best thing they have going for them is the Geek Squad. They are a great bunch of well-trained techs who also try to sell up at the home. Best Buy convinced me I needed to have the Geek Squad come to my house and see my present system and give me a proposal for a new one. It was $100 and if you bought the system you got the $100 back. I said I would think about it.

We decided to go that route. When I called the number to schedule the Geek visit, I found where it all breaks down for Best Buy. It would be easier to get a call through to Obama. You talk to at least three people, and give name, rank, and serial number to each. Finally, it was scheduled. Guess where the tech was sent? To my house in Arizona, which was in their system too, but three name, rank, and serial number submissions wasn’t sufficient to convey where the work was needed.

The techs tell me this is normal. So, you are Best Buy, you are under attack and you have a new chain coming into your Chicago market, and your best asset in your Geek Squad. What do you do? Put together the worst possible telephone system to arrange any service from your elite service department. You want something from the Geek Squad, I will tell you, go to the nearest store and do it there. Do not try to schedule anything through their 800 number.

With everyone trying to get and keep customers today, how do these problems exist? How can a cable company make a change that affects snow birds when snow birds are elsewhere? How does a major retailer not know they have big problems with their telephone scheduling system?

Hard to feel sorry for Best Buy if they follow Circuit City down the drain. But, you can feel bad for the Geek Squad, they tried their best. As for Cox, my lost business will just cause a rate increase for all. If Quest and Direct TV will play along.

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