Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

1942 words 8 pages
Case 2

Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

Learning Goals
Companies often divide up work as a way to improve efficiency, but specialization can lead to negative consequences. DrainFlow is a company that has effectively used specialization to reduce costs relative to its competitors’ costs for years, but rising customer complaints suggest the firm’s strong position may be slipping. After reading the case, you will suggest some ways it can create more interesting work for employees. You’ll also tackle the problem of finding people qualified and ready to perform the multiple responsibilities required in these jobs.

The Scenario
DrainFlow is a large residential and commercial plumbing maintenance firm that operates around the
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“The customers don’t know that we have a standard form, so they think we can answer all their questions. Most of us don’t know any more about plumbing than the caller. If they don’t use the terms on the survey, we don’t understand what they’re talking about. A plumber would, but we’re not plumbers; we just take the calls.”

Customer service issues also involve the billing representatives. They are the ones who have to keep contacting customers about payment. “It’s not my fault the wrong guy was sent,” says Elizabeth Monty. “If two guys went out, that’s two trips. If a plumber did the work, you pay plumber rates. Some of these customers don’t get that I didn’t take their first call, and so I get yelled at.” The billing representatives also complain that they see only the tail end of the process, so they don’t know what the original call entailed. The job is fairly impersonal, and much of the work is recording customer complaints. Remember—40 percent of customers aren’t satisfied, and it’s the billing representatives who take the brunt of their negative reactions on the phone.

As you can probably tell, all employees have to engage in emotional labor, as described in your textbook, and many lack the skills or personality traits to complete the customer interaction component of their jobs. They aren’t trained to provide customer service, and they see their work mostly in technical, or mechanical,


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