Wednesday, August 3

TQM; SIX SIGMA; CUSTOMER SERVICE -- WHERE HAVE THEY GONE?

On May 25th, armed with a new prescription following an annual eye examination, my wife ordered contact lenses from an online company called contact mania.com. A nightmare ensued. I won't bore you with the details other than to say they originally shipped the wrong prescription and then it took a series of progressively sterner emails over several months to get the correct prescription shipped, since they refused her a refund.

In the month of July, our cable television provider, Cebridge Connections, failed to provide us with service on 12 different days -- i.e., no signal, no picture, no audio, NADA! The euphemism for failing to deliver the contracted service is an "outage." The company can have an outage, but the customer cannot. Their Customer Service Department was useless: polite, ineffectual, and sounding as though they were reading from a script. This is a business which, in its automated switchboard, has #3 as an option to cancel service and #4 as an option to talk about a service problem. Need I say more?

About a week ago my wife purchased a new Motorola RAZR V3 cell phone. It arrived today and the screen is defective. She called and they will not ship her a new one until she has shipped and they have received the defective unit. "Customer always comes first ..." -- baloney! Neither refund nor replacement cell phone until my wife proves she's truthful. Nor, interestingly enough, was there any effort at troubleshooting over the telephone. No, my wife was simply given the onus to become a shipping clerk for Motorola. If I'm not mistaken, wasn't it Motorola that conceived of and implemented the innovative Six Sigma quality program?

Then, of course, we have good ol' NASA launching the space shuttle Discovery with the same foam problems that disintegrated the doomed Columbia in 2003. In turn, astronaut Steve Robinson was obliged to do a risky space walk and perform first-ever, delicate repairs to the fragile heat shield. But, NASA reports that the astronauts aboard are still not out of the woods. Good news is that the Houston Space Center is answering the "Help Desk" phone and not questioning the integrity of its flight crew. Bad news is that NASA fumbled the ball again with respect to SAFETY.

And, I suppose, I can even hearken back to my post last January recounting an impossible situation with AOL's overseas "Help Desk" (a misnomer) in simply trying to cancel service with that company on behalf of my mother-in-law.

What's going on in this country? What happened to Total Quality Management, Six Sigma initiatives, thorough fact-findings, consumer-responsive Action Plans, and putting the customer first?

The Malcom Baldrich award for quality is damn sure out of reach of the organizations listed above!


Filed in: