If you’ve ever taken a customer service training program, then you were probably taught about the importance of service recovery. Service recovery is taking the necessary steps to sustain customer loyalty after a situation has gone bad. In the context for this post, the word “customer” means anyone you are interacting with for any purpose. The reason I’m talking about this today is because I want to share with you an excellent example of service recovery that occurred within the past couple of days where I am the “customer” so to speak.
In the last couple of weeks I submitted a job application to a company in Johnston, Iowa for a Director of HR Technology position. This is a job I perform expertly. I’ve been supporting HR functions since 1995. Well, as with most companies, it’s necessary to go through a screening interview by a talent acquisition manager these days. I received a call on Monday to setup a telephone interview for Tuesday. The call was scheduled for 2pm Eastern and 1pm Central. Johnston. Iowa is in the Central time zone. I live in the Eastern time zone. The company was going to call me. I scheduled my day’s activities around the company’s promise to call at 2pm Eastern.
Shortly before 2pm, I went to my office, checked email, LinkedIn and Facebook and awaited the call. And I waited. And I waited. Checked my watch. Hmmm, 2:30pm and no call! I wrapped up what I was doing and began to move to the next task of the day when the phone rang. It was 3:00pm Eastern time. It was the talent acquisition manager, a woman by the name of Cindy. Cindy asked if I was ready for my interview. I politely said ‘no’ because it was scheduled for an hour earlier. The administrator who set up the appointment had put the Eastern time on Cindy’s calendar, not the Central time as we had agreed. Cindy and I agreed to reschedule for the next day.
Within a few minutes of hanging up with Cindy, the administrator called me and apologized for her mistake. We rescheduled for Wednesday morning at 10am Central, 11am Eastern. I planned my Wednesday morning activities around their promise to call. I entered my office just before 11am and as I did the day before, checked my email, LinkedIn and Facebook. And then I waited…and waited…and waited. I checked my watch. It was 11:30 and no call as promised.
Talent acquisition managers are often the first contact a candidate has with a company. They represent the face, culture and personality of the company. After scheduling two meetings and having those meetings fall through, what am I or anyone else for that matter supposed to think about that company in Johnston, Iowa. Red flags were flying all over the place. “Warning, warning Will Robinson…this might not be a pleasant place to work!”
Last evening when I got home from mid-week service, I had an email from Cindy. Here is what she said, “I apologize for missing our two scheduled times on July 6 & 7. There was confusion surrounding the first scheduled time due to time zone differences and the second time was totally my error. Again, I apologize.”
It takes a big person to admit when they’ve done wrong in the business world. It takes a big person to admit they’ve done wrong period. It takes a person with strength of character and integrity to do as Cindy has done. I appreciate her for her service recovery effort. What I’ve learned from this is that first impressions might not always be the lasting one. When I think of Cindy now and that company in Johnston, Iowa, I’ll always think of them as valuing respect for people.