Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

It's the Personal Side (or is it?)

The past three weeks were devoted to a lot of reflection. Three weeks ago my old 25mhz computer gave up its ghost after 14 years of perfect service. What to do? All ny "Views from the Hills of Kentucky" were on the computer along with all my lectures. You are right, I did not back up my files. Unfortunately the fax software along with all the distribution files were also on the dead computer. Was this to be the end of my retirement hobby? I could not fix it and neither could the computer repair shop that kept it for two weeks.

During this terrible two weeks, I resorted to what I always do during a depressing time, I clean out my files. In one of my files, a yellowing news paper article from 1994 fell out. It was an article by a young fellow by the name of Tom Peters, the famous management consultant. the article is titled "Attention to the customer a business'  greatest service."  In the article Mr. Peters discusses a restaurant experience where despite the management actions were headed for a disaster. But along comes a knowledgeable waitress who knows how to soothe the feathers of an unhappy customer. With a polite conversation, Mr. Peters left the restaurant after a poor meal feeling good about the establishment.

The real story was further into the article, it was about a research project conducted by the Forum Corporation. This company analyzed business customers lost by 14 major manufacturing and service companies. These were lost customers. Fifteen percent of those who switched to a competitor did so because they "found a better product." - by a technical measure of quality. Another fifteen percent changed suppliers because they found a "cheaper product" elsewhere. Twenty percent high tailed it because of the "lack of contact and individual attention" from the prior supplier and 49 percent left because "contact from the old supplier's personnel was poor in quality." Note: The last two categories, 20% & 49%, defected because they didn't like the human side of doing business with the previous provider.

I wonder what the same study would reveal today with all the out-sourcing, and answering machines. Would the numbers change? More importantly, is personal service really important today? By the actions of our major companies, it looks as if it is not considered very important.

Back to my problem. I doubt if I will ever use the repair shop again that held my old computer for two weeks with no positive results. A friend, Charlie Zitnik of the Kroger Company, took my broken down computer home for one night and fixed it. Or should I say fixed my problem. He took out the hard drive and bought an old 486 IBM for $20, and installed the hard drive from my broken computer into the IBM and I'm back in business. He would not take any compensation for his efforts. So Charlie, his wife Debbie, and my wife and I had a three hour Chinese Dinner at a local restaurant. Our meal was much better than Mr. Peters'.

In today's culture, do you feel that service is over rated? Do your customers agree with you?

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