Daily Archives: January 17, 2011

Setting expectations

Great news!! Our broken heater I talked about in my last post is now fixed, , , and what a pleasant experience.

There are valuable lessons in this one that apply to managing your IT organization.

First of all, a question for you, “Don’t you just hate it when everything a vendor tells you turns out exactly as they say it will?”

No, we don’t hate it, , , of course not, , ,  we LOVE IT !!

My heating guy is “Mike”, same name as I have. We had never met him but he was referred to us by a close friend. We called Mike last Thursday to come take a look at our downstairs heating unit that had gone out, , , and it was very, very cold with a forecast of lower temperatures coming.

First of all, he says he will be right there and he arrives within 30 minutes, , , pretty quick, , , we are off to a good start.

He analyzes the situation and calls me out to “take a look”. Anytime, you have to go “take a look”, there are problems in my experience. Sure enough, the heating elements are cracked and the motor had burned itself out.

Good news and not so good news
The good news is that he has already checked with the manufacturer and learned that the unit is still under its 10-year warranty, , , for 2 more months. WOW, what a lucky break.

The “not so good news” is that he has to order the parts and it will be next week before they will arrive so he can make the repairs.

When asked about what the cost will be, he explains briefly what has to be done and estimates the total cost will probably be somewhere around $500 to $700. If it had not been in warranty, we would be looking at several thousand dollars.

Before he leaves and this is important, Mike has set my expectations on when the unit will be fixed and how much it will cost – sometime next week as soon as the replacement parts arrive and around $500 to $700.

Tonight is going to be down to 12°F, , , so we do what we need to do to stay warm downstairs by using our fireplace and running the water slightly to keep the pipes from freezing. We have prepared ourselves to manage without the heating unit for a few days.

—> Flash forward 3 days to Monday (today)

The very good news
This morning, Mike calls to tell me they have the parts and can come by to make the repairs. WOW, it’s only Monday morning and I’m thinking it could be Wednesday or Thursday before he gets the parts. Great news.

After he completes the work, I inspect the repairs and we run a good test of the unit. He points out a couple of additional things they took care of that would make the heating and air unit more effective. It was small things that most people would not have addressed and something they certainly didn’t have to do. He took care of it because he cared. I later learned that he didn’t charge me for these two little fixes although I would have been totally fine if he had.

When presented his invoice, the cost was under his estimate, , , more GREAT NEWS.

Do you think I’m a happy client? You better believe I am, , , in fact, I plan to tell several more people about the good work Mike’s company does.

And who do you think I call the next time we have heating or cooling issues?

You got it, , , Mike is the only person I would think of calling.

Let’ summarize what happened here

  • He arrived on time
  • He was courteous, straightforward and answered my questions
  • He was proactive in checking on the warranty
  • He set my expectations on fixing the unit:
    • What was needed
    • Time frame
    • Cost
  • Completed the job earlier than expected
  • Completed the job at less cost than estimated
  • Took care of other issues he found, , , i.e., he over delivered

Mike’s company exceeded my expectations!

Your IT organization should provide service at this level. If you do, I can assure you there will be lots of happy clients who like to talk about how great your team performs. Those are the best salesmen you have, but you know what, , , you earn their positive comments and remarks when you provide excellent support.

No wonder my friend Terry is so positive about recommending Mike. Well, Mike now has another promoter in me; I plan to tell everyone I know who might need his services one day.

Consider the alternative for a moment. If Mike had done a poor job in any area of time frame, cost, not keeping me informed, , , do you think I would be so positive in telling others?

Absolutely NOT.

If you analyze the situation just a little, you can see that Mike positioned himself to over deliver. I’m sure he had a good idea when the parts would arrive and how much his labor cost would be.  His time estimate was “sometime next week”. I would have been happy with Thursday or Friday, , , I’m ecstatic about the job being done today (Monday).

The fact the cost came in 10% under his lower estimate of $500 also makes me very happy, , , I fully expected the cost would be somewhere around his upper estimate of $700.

I’m always impressed with good support and good service. It could be as in this situation with Mike, getting support from a hotel IT technician (click here to read the post), or even in a restaurant. Good service creates positive energy around your organization.

Guess what, most people are impressed with excellent client service, , , because that’s not what you usually receive. Focus your team and teach them how to set expectations so you can deliver excellent client service, , , then note the positive difference in working with your clients.