As someone who helps people improve their processes and quality for a living, being a consumer can sometimes drive me batty! I think there will always be a need for the lean principles to be applied (although some companies do not recognize the need). My wife and I recently purchased new windows for our whole house and have had cascading problems since.
The sales person did a quote while we were at work and mailed it to us. To understand what the windows he quoted were, we visited the showroom and the sales person showed us a double-hung window where both the top and bottom opened. We advised we wanted the energy-efficient and gas-filled glass. We pointed out the measurements on the quote weren’t correct so he was going to send someone out again and provide us with a more accurate quote.
The updated quote came and the price was good so we agreed via telephone.
During the day of the first installation I stayed out of the way from the crew. I popped out at one point to see one of the windows that was finished. It was a single-hung window where the top did not open like I ordered!
I called the salesperson who was very rude stating it was on the quote I agreed to. I advised it was not the window my wife and I saw in the showroom. He said that was just a demo of the window brand and we were not clear to him we wanted double-hung. I asked where it said on the quote that it was single hung to alert me as a customer that I might not be getting what I expected. He said next to each measurement is the code “SH” for single hung. I advised him that as the window expert, I would have expected him to explain technical codes to me the consumer and asked why he would not have tried to up-sell me on the more expensive window anyways. We eventually came to agreement to get the correct custom windows installed. This was truly a test of my respect for people principle!
Besides the obvious upset customer (me!), there was a lot of waste for the sales/installation company and the manufacturer:
- The installers have to send their crew out twice (you will find out it will be three times in part 2!).
- The single-hung custom windows are now scrap cost to the installer and/or manufacturer.
- The time the salesperson spent fixing our problem took time away from him to generate new business for the installation company.
Potential counter-measures: 1) Train salespeople to ask customer’s the right kind of questions to ensure their needs are met prior to ordering. 2) Make quotes visual with descriptions with explicit explanations with no code so the customer can understand what they are agreeing to. 3) Don’t blame the customer when problems happen but own the issue.
I will share part 2 next week. Any other wastes or counter-measures you see in this story?
My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation. How can I help harness that inspiration?
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