Do What You Say and Say What You Do
Some days are better than others. In December I fielded a strange request, a client that I was unfamiliar with called in to cancel their service contract on their fleet of old equipment. The message was relayed to me on the road and I immediately called the account back without having a chance to dig into the files. The young man on the other line quickly connected me to his boss, the CFO of this nonprofit organization. Let’s just say I was quickly brought up to speed on the recent history of our two firms and it was not a warm and fuzzy message. I set up a meeting for the following morning with Tony (the CFO) and went into research mode (History major). Not a great way to end the day…
9 a.m. I had a detailed overview of the contracts, but this turned out to be a philosophical problem, not a contract problem. My first visit with Tony was a continuation of the concerns I heard the previous day. The nonprofit was hit with a 40% drop in funding over the last few years and an increase in government required documentation to justify their services. Because they have multiple offices throughout the region, communication of records is difficult, redundant and costly. He told me that Advance had not heard this message and guess what, he was right. This could be attributed to a recent account reassignment in our sales department or simply just dropping the ball.
9:15 a m. Take a deep breath and think… I tell Tony that I would feel the same way if I was in his chair. This is Advance, we have a burning desire to satisfy the customer. I look at that sentence on our mission statement I have framed on the wall in my office and I know from the top down it is a reality. “We have fallen short of our reputation and we will make it right, do me a favor and dial 410-252-4800 and ask for Alan.” 30 seconds later, without us explaining who we are or why we are calling, the CEO of Advance picks up with a pleasant voice and says “Hello this is Alan, how can I help you”. Anyone that has ever interacted with Alan knows what happened over the next 30 minutes. The passion and commitment to customer service is unmistakable.
9:45 a.m. Tony ends the call by stating “We are starting to make strides in the right direction, thank you for your time and attention to our concerns, let’s see where we go from here.” Tony and I agree that based on this spirit of partnership, we can get to work on understanding the environment and go from here. I commit to him that I will visit all the sites and report the findings back to him. Several calls by him to the locations as a heads up and I’m on the road…clear my calendar for the day and away we go.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visit several sites and see various scenarios that we adjust. Get to know all the local managers and listen to their needs.
Following day/days – Report back to Tony with our initial findings and start implementing service response improvements (our C.A.R.E. program for automated email updates on our technician’s status). Our next steps included an introduction to our document management team and more on-site reviews. We dig up opportunities to digitize incoming faxes, dive into our document management capabilities and even invite their executives to join us at our next Accelerent meeting.
Fast forward to this week – We have implemented new technology that has saved the organization money and improved the capabilities for his staff. I was traveling with a new representative on a follow up meeting and asked Tony to give her any advice that he thought we be helpful. His response: “Do what you say and say what you do.” Advance has followed up on everything that we said we would do since our original meeting. You have also told us about new technologies and efficiencies that we were not aware of, thank you.” I told him thank you and explained that he was the inspiration for my latest blog. Not a bad way to end the day.