Customer Focus

At 6.15 p.m. Sandra is working late at the office as she is swamped with a backlog of work left during her holiday, the previous week. She really hates staying over, her husband and family complain and she doesn’t get paid, but the work has to be done as if she doesn’t do it nobody else will. At least that’s what Alex Simpson, her manager, says. Sandra has worked at J.T. Simpsons Electrical Contractors for seven years, originally for John Simpson until his retirement last year, but now for his son Alex. Things will never be the same she thinks, John was such a nice man who cared about his customers, all that Alex cares about is costs, budgets and balance sheets.

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Out of the quietness of the empty office Sandra jumps as the telephone rings, and on answering it gets bombarded with a hail of shouting and abuse. Sandra tries her best to calm the caller down but he is insistent on speaking to the owner. She explains politely that Mr. Simpson has left the office for the evening, but the caller will not accept her explanation and with his closing statement of “your useless, why do they employ stupid women who know nothing, you should be at home cooking!” slams the phone down.

This is all I need, Sandra thought to herself why do they always pick me? She looked at her watch, it was 6.30, time to go home and face the family. The next morning Sandra arrives at work as usual, and begins to wade through the piles of customer orders and invoices left from last week when Alex arrives. “Can you clear all of the invoices by lunch time please Sandra, and I’ve got visitors this afternoon so I want you to get coffee and biscuits.” Sandra reminds Alex of the orders that are outstanding but he is adamant that the invoices are more important.

Sandra spends the morning clearing all of the invoices and when lunchtime comes she is glad of the opportunity to get out of the office to get the coffee and biscuits for Alex’s visitors. On her return, Sandra is greeted by a very red faced man who immediately begins waving a pile of papers at her and demanding to know why he hasn’t received his order that was placed a week ago and promised for last Friday. Sandra explains to the customer that she does not know why he has not received his order, but if he would like to take a seat she will look into it for him.

Sandra knows quite well why the order has not been received, so from the other office she telephones the warehouse to put the order up right away. When Sandra goes back into the other office she finds Alex dealing with another annoyed customer who also seems to be complaining about an order. ‘”Sandra this man says you were rude to him on the telephone last night, and this other man hasn’t received his order what’s going on?”

Discussion Points 1 Why do you think that the level of service has dropped at Simpsons in recent months? 2. What do you think could be done to solve the problems of the two irate customers? 3. How would you re-organise the work load to prevent this from happening again? 4. What should Sandra do to make Alex aware that he caused the problems? Sandwell Training Association.