It Works But it Does Not Wash

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One of the very first jobs I did was — intern with a washing machine company. For a brief time, I used to call up customers and seek their feedback on the company’s washing machines.

There was one call that I will never forget. When I called up a customer and asked, if he was happy with his washing machine; he said — no.

He said — “it works, but, it doesn’t wash”

He was not angry at all and said it in a very — matter of fact way. He told me that when they had bought the washing machine several years ago, he was very satisfied with it, but, over the years — its effectiveness had diminished. It still runs the full cycle, but somehow it doesn’t wash the way it used to.  He never bothered to complain to the company because nothing was specifically wrong with it and he mentioned it; only because I called up.

I filed his complain in the log and I am not sure if anything happened after that.

A few years later, I got a boss who had the philosophy that you should cater to the customer who can create the maximum nuisance — first, and then deal with everyone else.

He used to say that it was not the nuisance itself, but the fact that such a person is more likely to spread negative news of your products among his friends and family and can cause a lot of harm, if left alone.

But, the really insightful thing was his definition of — nuisance. He said that there were some customers who were rude to his staff and raised tantrums, and there was really nothing he could do about that.

He had no way of controlling the temper of over a hundred salesmen who worked for him, and if someone was behaving like that — he had no control over how his team would react.

Instead, he focused on the people who complained persistently. People, who — called up week after week and were not necessarily rude, but, just didn’t let go.

He wanted his team to focus on those type of people. He told them that they had no right to be angry on such customers and the fact that they had not let up calling — shows that they are still talking about their bad experience with their friends and family and causing damage every week.

When I heard him speak like that, I thought of the man with the washing machine and how he never created any nuisance. That is probably the reason he was stuck with it. Had he complained a few times, they might have done something about it.

Personally, persistence in dealing with support staff has paid off for me. The most difficult thing was to get in the habit of picking up the phone and calling up, but, once you do that a few times — it becomes second nature and you even start enjoying it!

Since, I have been on the receiving end myself, I can’t be rude, but that doesn’t stop me from being persistent, and I think that being polite and firm is better than being rude any day.

So, don’t live with a washing machine that works, but, doesn’t wash, pick up the phone and be prepared to call up a few times.

3 thoughts on “It Works But it Does Not Wash”

  1. Great article Manshu – being persistent is frequently the only way to get things done. I do wish, however, that the persistent but kind people would get better attention than the rude ones. I can’t stand how negative behavior is rewarded.

    1. While we would like to think that being nice will get the same results (or better) as being rude — I have a feeling that the opposite is true and as you say — bad behavior does get rewarded quite a lot.

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