"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."
- Roger Staubach
In corporate culture, information and influence are concentrated at the top. As you travel up a company’s organizational chart, the executives acquire more “juice” and are more focused on customer satisfaction. So when you experience a product or service problem, sometimes the best course of action is to go directly to the CEO. Do not pass "GO" - Do not collect $200.
My latest customer service experience was with H&R Block, and involved my 2005 income tax returns. Earlier this year, I discovered that H&R Block made a mistake on these forms. This error made it necessary for my wife and I to pay additional taxes and interest. When I contacted John D’Agostino, a Senior Tax Adviser in the Morristown, NJ office, he invited us to come in (the same day) to discuss this matter. After verifying that H&R Block did make a miscalculation, he redid our taxes, and prepared our amended returns. John was professional, patient, and polite during this process. He was thorough in his explanation of the problem and the corrective action. We were very impressed!
During our conversation, I indicated to John that since our 2005 income tax returns contained mistakes, I believed that we should be issued a refund for the preparation fee. John replied that he was not authorized to do this, and referred my request to the H&R Block Regional Office. However something must have gotten “lost in the sauce”, and the higher ups never contacted me. But I didn’t get too upset because mis-communication often occurs when you go from one level of mid-management to another.
I then implemented Operation Go to the Top and sent a letter to Mark A. Ernst, Chairman, President, and CEO of H&R Block Inc. When writing this letter, I recalled the wisdom of Jerry Maguire – “Help Me - Help You!”. I provided enough information so that Mr. Ernst had a clear understanding of what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what needed to be done to make things right.
Two weeks later I received a full refund for my 2005 income tax preparation fee, and a very gracious letter from Melissa Warren, of the H&R Block Regional/Executive Client Relations Office. A short time later, Melissa sent us an additional check for the interest that was owed on our taxes. Wow!
While I was upset that a mistake was made, I have enough experience in business (and life) to know that “stuff” happens. Every company makes mistakes. But what separates the white cowboy hats from the black ones is how a company responds to complaints. Is the company hostile and argumentative or do they make a sincere effort at resolution? One of my favorite quotes is:
“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”
- Donald Porter, VP British Airways
In both business and personal relationships, you never really know how much integrity the other party has - until you see how they deal with problems. Based on our experience, H&R Block is definitely one of the good guys. Would I use them again? Yes! Would I recommend them to other people? Yes!
Another favorite phrase is:
"Treat every customer as if they sign your paycheck, because they do."
- Author Unknown