When does a customer become a nuisance calling every Goddamn day
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  1. #1
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    Default When does a customer become a nuisance calling every Goddamn day

    Good morning All:
    So I have a shit ton of work on my plate these days, and almost none of it is the kind where I can just set up a machine and run...it's all stuff where I need to squint into the microscope, or stand in front of the Bridgeport. or weld with the laser welder etc etc.

    Despite my best efforts to keep all satisfied, I'm still getting call after plaintive call from customers...
    "Where's my shit?"
    "Can you give me a progress update"
    "I need it NOW"...blah blah blah.

    So I'm starting to get a bit snippy with the worst offenders.
    One has been calling me every couple of hours on a project they INSISTED was going to go to 3 shops, one of which bailed about two weeks ago leaving me with a bunch of stuff not done, and a bunch of stuff partially done, and a bunch of stuff done wrong.
    That project is now a month behind through no fault of mine...in fact I bailed out their asses by agreeing to step in and rescue it: make the missing pieces and fix the fucked up ones.

    He just got the "Do you want me to work on your project or do you want me to yap on the phone?" spiel, and he didn't respond too gracefully.

    So now I'm a bit pissed and I'm trying to finish a build involving handling 1mm diameter 4 mm long screws and 1 x 4 dowel pins and other fiddly shit that's hard to do when you're mad.

    I feel like going for a coffee and a nice long walk and fuck the project...piss on it from a great height!

    How would you guys handle it?

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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  3. #2
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    Set up voice mail with the message including "Sorry, I am not able to answer the phone right now because I am busy working on your shit".

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    They won't go out of business if they don't get their parts tomorrow.
    You won't go out of business if they don't get their parts tomorrow.

    d7a3dcc83bf07a49be9c258285ca190335.jpg

  6. #4
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    Used to be a "German brand specialist" mechanic nearby, came over from Germany, had the accent and the attitude.

    His answering machine was simple.
    "You have reached xxx auto repair, I will be in the office from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm
    at which time I will take questions, goodbye" and there was no way to leave a message.

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    Go for a walk.

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    We have a similar issue with customers that have widely varying expectations about what level of customer service they require. We upgraded our phone system a few years ago and my number one priority was to help give the salespeople more control over their time, rather than being under the constant pressure of answering calls as they came in. Pretty much all of our sales are "technical", meaning each transaction requires some offline time investment by the salesperson, rather than just being completed during the course of the initial call. So the interruptions really harm productivity.

    To this end, I installed a relatively modern VoIP phone system that has a configurable virtual receptionist, caller ID and configurable voicemail. The trick here is to NOT have all incoming calls directly ring you. Let the virtual receptionist pick up and give them a choice (like "for engineering press 1, for shipping press 2, for accounts receivable press 3" etc) even if all those go back to the same extension/voicemail box. This adds friction and a "time cost" to the process so your customer is required to be deliberate about spending the time to call you and consider what they want to call about. Otherwise, without going through the menu it's essentially "free" for them to dial a number and wait on the line while it rings you, while it costs you in time and stress to hear the phone ringing and answer/screen calls manually, without any advance warning. For the people you want to reach you right away, these systems will let you configure an extension or direct dial number that bypasses all this.

    The voicemail included in this system has email notifications with speech-to-text. The speech-to-text isn't perfect, but it means I almost never have to sit down at the desk and listen through tons of voicemail messages. I can just briefly screen the emails that come in while I'm doing other stuff. If it looks important, I can play the audio back directly from my email client. Way more time efficient.

    This also comes with decent caller ID, on a big screen where you can see the whole number/description at a glance. That REALLY helps ignore/deprioritize problem callers.

    Finally, if you're already doing this and customers are still unreasonably bothering you, all these systems have do-not-disturb modes and call filtering that can help you set these boundaries and reclaim your time, in a somewhat polite/"nothing personal" way. There will always be those special folks who simply will not give up, but all these measures really help to avoid the majority of phone annoyances. Ultimately these techniques boil down to setting expectations for when/how you are available to communicate, all the gadgets just help you do that in a professional, efficient way.

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    1) Go for that walk, you need it.

    2) Send the guy an email, containing exactly what you wrote in your post about the job, along with a reasonable estimate when you will finish it. Set the bar where you can reach it, then get it done sooner, rather than the other way around. Tell them if they can't live with that, come get their stuff, sorry. Let your calls go to voicemail, handle when you want.

    3) Remember, it's better to be busy like than staring at the phone and the walls with no work.

    Jeff

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    A few years ago I started putting my mental well being way ahead of walk in customer's needs. I just made a conscious decision to say no a lot more often and I don't regret it a bit.

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    I think carbon gave a very helpful reply.

    If his and the others don't give you a little relief, you should pickup some of this from your local pharmacy:

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails fukitol-sm-7665941.jpg  

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    Its a balancing act,do you need the work ?
    As others stated mental health comes before work, be straight with him.
    Quit bothering me , Im working on it and Ill call you when its done.
    If he doesnt like it then too bad, move on.

  17. #11
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    I feel like going for a coffee and a nice long walk and fuck the project...piss on it from a great height!
    F' It.. Take a couple of days off.

    Regroup, refresh, relax. The work will still be there come Monday.

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    When ever I’m under pressure , quality goes south!! Stop answering the dam phone , give a update at 4:30 . This is your show run run it as such.

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    I never answer my landline, always let it go to message. Then at the end of the day I check them. Many used to be spam, got rid of that by starting the message with the "Special Information Tone" which signals a number no longer in use.

    Family and friends have my cell phone number. But I leave it on my desk when I'm working, return call when I take a break, or at the end of the day. Pisses off the wife, but I don't believe in 24/7 connectedness.

    I just don't get why people think they should be able to get to you any damn time they please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    A few years ago I started putting my mental well being way ahead of walk in customer's needs. I just made a conscious decision to say no a lot more often and I don't regret it a bit.
    -This. I wasn't going to give myself a heart attack over some other guy's job.

    Doc.

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    I find that customer satisfaction has less to do with giving the customer what he wants and more to do with giving him what he expects. Set the expectations, meet the expectations if that's not good enough for him he can take a walk. You can manage his expectations of you, you can't manage his life.

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  26. #16
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    This is a fine line, as whether you like it or not, customers have been fucked over by so many companies these days, it is almost 'required' that the customer be a pest if he expects to get anything done. The old 'voice mail' duck is disgrace used by too many companies....and big companies are just as guilty as one man operations.

    The short answer is it's practically impossible to run a one man shop. You need a human - preferably a 19 year old girl with a tight rear end - to run interference and handle all the minutiae that wastes your time. This includes buying shop supplies, making bagels and coffee, and making/taking phone calls. Sorry, but that's a cost of being in business.


    But I well know the pain in the ass of being interrupted when working. My old friend Bob owned a shop, he'd be under a car covered in oil and the phone would ring. He'd answer it and it'd be his wife calling him for some stupid-ass reason like they needed a loaf of bread. When he picked up I'd hear her ask "What're you doing?!?!" and he'd just say with clenched teeth, "I'm talking to you, Sally....."

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    Kinda like this...


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    Under promise.
    Over deliver.
    Write the promised delivery on the calendar. If they call before that time refer to your note and let them know daily interruptions may push out the delivery date.
    If they get it before the promised date, they’ll likely be happy.

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  32. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonbl View Post
    . . .The trick here is to NOT have all incoming calls directly ring you. Let the virtual receptionist pick up and give them a choice (like "for engineering press 1, for shipping press 2, for accounts receivable press 3" etc) . . .
    Yeah, and THIS drives me up a tree. Nobody wants to talk to the customer/client anymore. You may have a case, but its too damned easy and cheap and everybody is doing it. When I get that crap, I'll call someone else until I get a real person on the line if possible and that's where I'll do my business.

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  34. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingbob View Post
    I find that customer satisfaction has less to do with giving the customer what he wants and more to do with giving him what he expects. Set the expectations, meet the expectations if that's not good enough for him he can take a walk. You can manage his expectations of you, you can't manage his life.
    Exactly.

    When somebody shows up ready to throw their emergency at me, my attitude these days is "You sure got a problem there!"

    I used to jump into action, fighting for a solution, but anymore I will give them options I know won't raise my blood pressure and continually re-iterate their problem is up to them.

    I guess it's part strategy and part attitude. I definitely make way more money on the tough jobs I take in and I don't do any jobs I might lose on.

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