Thursday, July 7, 2011

Column #60 - Where did the Knowledge go? 3/26/11

So, here sat the customer; calling a place they hadn’t done business with; talking to people who had no clue as to what they were needing; and not being able to get the same level of response from the new organization that they had been used to…is it any wonder they complained to high heaven and took their business elsewhere if they could? I could not blame them.
Now, lest it seems like I am dissing the service branch employees, allow me to explain. These were Porter-Cable service branches. These folks were PORTER-CABLE experts. They KNEW their PC stuff…but they were NOT Delta experts. Delta had always used PC as Authorized Service Centers for service and there were a few branches that had folks in them who really wanted to learn Delta stuff (the Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas branches come to mind). Consequently, those branches faired better when Delta business got dumped on them, than some of the others did. But most of the branch people looked on Delta as an albatross around their neck…and even if they didn’t, they simply did not have the Delta experience that the customer expected them to have.
We even went so far as to have some ‘Train The Trainer’ classes in Jackson (conducted by yours truly) that were designed to show them the machines, how to troubleshoot them, and give them a very good reference manual that contained much of that ‘obscure information’ that customers usually asked for...then they were to return to their branch and pass that knowledge on to the other folks. Again, some branches took to it like fish in water, and others took to it like a lead balloon in air.
On top of that, Delta Memphis had employees answering the 800 line that had been there for years and years. It was a great place to work and employee turnover was very minor. Over the years, this was one of our best assets. Stay somewhere long enough and you absorb knowledge that you just can’t get in a class.
So, the customers complained, the selling dealers complained, company Presidents complained and finally… those in charge listened. In the fall of 2000 the decision was made to re-staff the Delta 800 line and house it in Jackson. Finally, a good, logical decision in the middle of all of this hoopla… I was approached about heading up the call center, but it meant giving up my role as Technical Support Manager and after a sleepless night, I went into a meeting with the VP in charge of the effort… and next week, I’ll tell you how that went.

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