Windows Of Frustration (part 2)

To get new windows in our house it has taken a minimum of five installations due to lack of inspection. 

After the problems with the first installation (see part 1), I kept in constant contact with the sales person to ensure the windows that will be replaced are double-hung, has the same grid pattern, and the same energy efficiency.  The sales person advised me the windows will be the exact same as the first installation except double-hung.

I had a family member at my house while the crew came for the second installation since I have to work and they only come M-F 8:00-5:00.  After the windows were installed, my family member called to advise there were grids in both the top and bottom glass instead of just the top (which is how the single-hung windows looked like at the first installation).  We also advised the crew to inspect one of the other windows that were installed previously because the framing was chipped.

The sales person advised me that I now have to work with the manufacturer since his company finished the install.  The issue was now part of the warrantee with the window company and not the sales/installation company.  The sales person told me the window company has a week backlog before they are even able to call people back to discuss problems.  The sales person added that the window company will have to deal with the chipped framing as well.

I finally got a call from the window company and they advised they will come out to replace the windows with the incorrect lower grids.  I asked for an evening or weekend install and they refused.  I asked them if their refusal was serious especially since it is to fix a mistake they made.  They advised they were serious.

The correct windows were finally put in for the third installation.  They looked at the chipped framing window and advised they will come out again to replace it (M-F 8:00-5:00 only again).  Luckily I happened to have had a weekday off to be there when they came a fourth time to fix the chipped framing but the installer ordered the wrong parts and needed to come back a fifth time.  This Thursday will be the fifth time so my fingers are crossed but the cynic in me is expecting trouble.

I share this story to help highlight where Lean could help this situation.  Below is a partial list:

  • The sales/installation company should have done a quality inspection before spending the resources installing the wrong parts.
  • The window company should have a better quality check before they wasted time building incorrect custom windows.
  • I am sure there was a communication flow issue between the sales/installation company and the window company that can be standardized.
  • The fact that there is a weeklong backlog before problems can even begin to be addressed should be seen as a problem for the window company.  Getting to the root cause will help them fix the issue instead of always putting out fires.
  • An understanding of what is value added to the customer will help both companies.  I expect more value when a problem is identified but they treated the issue like it was normal.  From my experience, most customers judge a company by how they deal with problems if they unfortunately encounter one.

What other opportunities do you see for either company?

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Business, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Waste

3 responses to “Windows Of Frustration (part 2)

  1. Sounds horrible! Actually, it sounds exactly like my experience getting my warranty repairs handled by my homebuilder. In my case, it took about 10 trips to finally get the major problems fixed; the minor problems are hopelessly un-repaired to this day.

    I’ve also been on the other side of the fence, as a construction manager for a homebuilder. I had to put customer service issues in a long queue and deal with poor quality on every project it seemed. We lacked the basic quality management tools that most decent manufacturing companies adopted way back in the 70’s. Nevermind Lean or Six Sigma; we were pre-TQM!

    Unfortunately, too many construction companies (big, well-known, respected construction companies even) are equally as incompetent at satisfying customers. It goes beyond poor leadership or lack of a good operating system at any particular construction firm; the problem is embedded in the overall culture of the construction industry. We just don’t want to let go of the old-school mentality and accept a more collaborative approach based on continuous improvement. Until we do, homeowners like yourself will continue to deal with “windows of frustration.”

  2. Thanks for the comment Michael. I love the work you are writing about to apply Lean thinking to the construction industry. I anxiously await to see how you will help change that embedded culture!

    I guess I should quit whining about 5 installations if yours took 10!

  3. It is a sad fact that many of these home improvement efforts lend themselves to articles by Lean Sigma bloggers. I unfortunately had a similar experience with a kitchen remodel which also provided me with material.

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