Service of Sloppy Execution

October 22nd, 2009

Categories: Accommodation, Attitude, Communications, Customer Service, Management, Marketing, Public Relations, Quality Control, Responsiveness, Retail, Service, Technology


Graduation Photo

Graduation Photo

I love taking pictures [that’s one of mine, above] and ordered some online today. When I clicked for the locations of this ubiquitous drugstore chain to indicate where I wanted to pick up the shots, the branch two blocks from my office wasn’t listed.

How could this be? I’d just come from the store where I’d spoken with the photo consultant to confirm that I could pick up my photos there. She said “yes” and gave me the address and zip code to make it easy to find on the store’s photo pickup locator list. With the incomplete order live on my computer I called her and she said she’d tell the manager that their store wasn’t listed.

I still needed the images so I selected the branch nearest my apartment. As promised, a few hours after submitting the online order, I got an email noting that my order was ready. But the email didn’t tell me the hours that the photo department was open, so I called the phone number in the email to find out.

The phone number didn’t ring at the branch, but somewhere in ether and a computerized voice told me that the nearest store to me [not my question] was one that is actually blocks and blocks away from either my office or my apartment. I hung up, went back on line to the web site and its general store locator, found the branch and called to learn about the hours.

The upshot? Time lost on my part and frustration. Instead of going two blocks from my office I went eight blocks from my home for the pickup. The online procedure turned out to be far from seamless.

I get the feeling that the person who designed the program, along with the marketer at the drugstore, never thought through what the user might need. It was just another project on a list of tasks–a project to handle any old way so as to check it off and on to the next one.

I’ve worked with clients and colleagues like this–it’s difficult.  Prep work is universal to success. If the painter or furniture refinisher doesn’t take the time and effort to properly prep surfaces, the topcoat soon peels off.  Not focusing on a project, testing and revisiting it until it’s perfect renders poor results almost every time.

It seems to be a question of whose time you waste–yours or the client’s. These days, clients lose.

Big corporations aren’t alone in completing projects in half-baked ways. Just this week I received a solicitation from a private girl’s school. On the envelope was an unfamiliar logo designed to promote an anniversary with no mention of the school.

My sister didn’t think she got the mailing. My bet is that her copy landed in the trashcan–unopened–along with thousands of others. Recipients weren’t about to open their checkbooks for what looked like a request from an unknown organization. What a waste.

In this case, the development folks, too close to their project, assumed that everyone remembered that it was this school’s 125th anniversary and/or that they would recognize the new logo that might have appeared in a newsletter or bulletin. I don’t recall having seen the logo before. On careful inspection, the return address was printed in mouse type–but who spends any kind of time studying unsolicited mail?

My first boss in PR told me that the time I have to catch an editor’s interest in my press release is the instant it takes her to scan the headline and read it on its way from her desk to the wastebasket. [Everything was in hard copy in those days.] I’d bet direct mail gets less of a recipient’s time than that.

Can you vent about other initiatives that work up to a point or that miss the mark altogether? Also tell us why you think this happened.


One Response to “Service of Sloppy Execution”

  1. Daivid Hudson Said:


    Two ways I try to get around the system are:

    1) When you get “press one, press two,” I press zero, until I get a human voice. If I get one who desn’t speak English, or do not get one, I use a different supplier or do without.

    2) Tell the person that you speak to that you don’t own a computer. That usually causes shock waves and gets results. If it doesn’t, do without.

    My telephone was broken yesterday. I had a delightful evening as the phone didn’t ring once. Sometimes, obviously not always, less is better.

    Your blog is very much to the point, service everywhere is continuing to become less and less reliable, and we should do something about it!

    Lead the way!


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