No customer obsession, please!

How my dishwasher is unfixed after a service appt.

No customer obsession, please!

So. I have a Whirlpool dishwasher, which came with a newly built townhouse. There was a minor problem a few months ago, I called the service center, and they sent a technician and fixed it, it was a good experience and I hardly remember it. It broke again last week for a different reason.

I called the service center, and after waiting for 5 minutes and being repeatedly told to book a service online, I did.

On the day, the technician showed up, asked for a dated receipt to prove warranty is still in effect. I explained it came with the house, and showed him an inspection report from Ontario's housing insurance company, which is what everyone else had been asking for so far. He said he couldn't recognize it and he needed to see a document of possession from the lawyers. I couldn't produce it on the spot because I didn't know what it was, and he couldn't tell me the exact name of the document.

I spent some time looking through my bookshelf and he took a look at the dishwasher and appeared clueless at the problem.

I asked him if I can call the service center or even check with the technician who came last time to confirm if he should accept my document, he said he couldn't, and any instructions had to be written in his work order.

I asked him how much would it cost if I just paid him, he said $150 plus tax. And he added I wouldn't be able to expense it later to the warranty because the corporate office would decline on grounds of "why didn't you clear it up before you paid?".

Then he politely waited for about 10 minutes while I kept looking through my bookshelf. He then told me he had to go to his next customer, and I should call service center the day after, because service center would be confused on the same day since there was already a technician visit. And I should tell them to put in the worker order what documents to accept.

I asked for a card from him (with the intention of maybe giving a bad review), he told me he didn't have it, he worked with Whirlpool directly therefore (?) doesn't have a card. He then left.

Business Analyst Hat

Result: Product is unfixed, and customer is unhappy. Despite showing up at the customer site, having the tools and the time to fix the problem, the agent could not do it because of confusion on paperwork.


  • The agent lacks detailed specifications of the job, and the ability to retrieve it from the headquarter. The customer is asked to prove himself by producing unknown documents.
  • The agent has no agency to improve the customer experience. The agent did not appear to try particularly hard to help the customer. Even if he did, he could not justify working without hard evidence of warranty.
  • The headquarter has no fail safe to salvage the customer experience. It appears reasonable to give instructions to agents on site, or to honor a warranty claim after the customer pays for it.
  • The headquarter is not collecting feedback data. Customer trust is eroded, but customer feedback is not solicited via surveys or the agent.

Management Consultant Hat

Consultant: Do you consider warranty service an important part of the business?

CEO: Yes, of course.

Consultant: If the customer couldn't produce proof of warranty, would you fix the product regardless and risk working for free?

CEO: No, of course not.

Consultant: But the alternative is to risk losing customer trust.

CEO: We accept that risk. We are a company of rules, we cannot let the customer get away with skimming us.

Consultant: Aren't you afraid the customer will be unhappy and go to your competitors?

CEO: We have been operating this way for many decades. We have no data to suggest customers will do that.

Consultant: Would you consider investing in customer service department to modernize the workflows, to empower the agents, and to collect customer feedback to measure your improvements?

CEO: Ideally yes, but are always short on fund. Plus, we have a long tradition of prioritizing investments on marketing. To be honest, if I keep doing that, I will keep my job. If I prioritize customer service, I will raise some eyebrows from the board. Hat

The first Leadership Principle is Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

Leaders are selected and promoted based on how well they exercise the principle of Customer Obsession. Implementing systems to earn customer trust is the default. Keeping systems that erode customer trust requires substantial justification.