May 4, 2005
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Webster, a surrogate is "one taking the place of another." Today, business abounds in the use of surrogates. It is commonly called "outsourcing." A number of recent experiences reminded me of an old axiom, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link." Or we may say in relation to outsourcing, "You are only as good as the person you hire to represent you."
Unfortunately we often assume that the person or company we hire has our best interest at heart, or at least has the same priorities as we do when it comes to carrying out their responsibilities as they relate to the task they are contracted to do for us. That is a tremendous leap of faith. As a rule, the surrogate has his/her best interest at heart. It is our responsibility to convince the surrogate that it is in his best interest to be concerned with our interest. It is only then that he should be given the responsibility to be our surrogate.
We only need to look at our so-called airport security. Look at who they hire to be their surrogates, how they perform their tasks and the level of training that is given vs. the level that is requested. This is not a job many sane individuals would like to have. This leads to the employment of personnel that have a hard time finding employment elsewhere. In many cases, felons are hired. No wonder things turn up missing from the luggage. The surrogate company agrees to a certain amount of training, but this takes production time off the floor, as a result the training is eliminated. Training costs the subcontractor time and money. The end result is that we have unskilled and untrained labor doing a job which is supposed to protect the public.
I am reminded of a research project involving Radar, an anti-dandruff hair dressing for men. We had contracted a research agency to place and recall the test. After reviewing some of the data, we found it necessary to get in touch with some of the test participants. The result was that we found cases of test product at the research facility for which we had consumer interviews. The agency conducted some interviews and, using the test data, fabricated additional interviews. Some people within P&G thought that was impossible until they were informed that we had uncovered the same practice with our own interviewing field force.
Not all is bad news in customer service. Two months ago we purchased a Maytag washer and dryer. Four weeks later the Maytag Corporation sent three pieces of mail to an address that we had moved from over eleven years ago. The result of this mis-directed mail led to two good customer service actions. First, the mail delivery person at our old address knew our daughter and delivered the mail to her. The second event was when I called the Maytag Customer Service number, a young lady by the name of Rolanda took my call, listened to the problem and said, "I will take care of it and if I have any trouble, I will let you know."
My thoughts coming away writing this Views are as follows:
- Who you hire to interact with your customers is a reflection of what you think of your customers.
- Just because you delegated responsibility to a surrogate does not relieve you of the responsibility. It becomes a shared responsibility through a partnership.
- Some people play the "peanut butter game" by spreading the area of responsibility over the greatest area possible so that there is little chance of anything sticking to them.
- If you are serious about a task, Confirm, Confirm, and Reconfirm (see Views for August 20, 2003)
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