Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Separate quality control from sales?

Our refrigerator died yesterday. Actually, it didn't die, but it was very sick, with a compressor that couldn't keep it cold enough anymore.

The cost of a new compressor was well over $500, and almost half the cost of replacing the fridge. We decided to replace the compressor, rather than the whole fridge, although someday I'm going to revisit the economics of that decision. For now, it just annoyed me to have to spend SO MUCH money just to keep an old appliance alive. The repairman also was in our home until almost 10 pm doing the work.

Although the repairman was helpful and doing his best to be empathetic, I was in a bad mood about the whole experience and couldn't wait to get this guy out of our house.

After he presented the invoice and accepted payment, he handed me a customer feedback form for me to complete, insert in an envelope, and seal. I took a minute or two to do so.

The first couple of questions were about the quality of service: did the service person explain the problem clearly, was he courteous, on time, etc. I gave the guy some credit because, other than taking longer than he estimated, I thought he did a good job.

Then the next several questions, taking up about 2/3 of the entire sheet, were questions for selling new services:
  • Does anyone in the home have allergies?
  • Dry skin?
  • Does the air conditioning keep the house cool enough?
On and on ...

Was this a quality assurance questionnaire, or a sales questionnaire? There were so many sales questions that it made me question whether the company really wanted to measure service quality at all. I think they couldn't care less. They just want to put me on a mailing or phone list for having my heating ducts cleaned or to have my air conditioning serviced.

At the end, they had a numerical rating scale for their service quality. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would have given the guy an 8, even though I was annoyed with having to pay all this money and have this guy in our house all evening. But after being hammered with more sales questions, I gave him a 6.

Not that they care or that they'll even look at it. They'll mostly be annoyed that I didn't answer any of their sales questions.

While selling should be a regular part of a company's interaction with a customer by any employee, there is one area where the presence of sales is inappropriate. Sales should not be part of quality assurance, other than the implicit message that the customer should want to buy more because the company is so focused on quality.
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