The Town of Aurora welcomes all complaints provided they are processed through the proper channels….

30261667

 

….Yup, one flush usually does it!

The Auroran interviewed me regarding my previous post ( http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/circling-the-drain-of-customer-service ) and ran a piece on Page 16 of this week’s paper.  You can read it here:

V11N46P16.pdf
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Included in the piece is an outrageously patronizing response given by the town’s “communication manager” which I will excerpt here to highlight my former points:

“We apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced by the recent disruption in service,” said Jason Ballantyne, Manager of Corporate Communications for the Town. We realize that it was particularly inconvenient coming the day after Labour Day.”

Then why would the town proceed?

Especially without providing proper notice?

How is it that the town’s hands would be tied on something like this?

Water is becoming a huge issue in this town, with water bills increasing at alarming rates, and this level of service is what the Town’s P.R. person deems acceptable?

“The Town works with contractors to try and give as much notice as possible – in some cases up to a week – prior to service disruptions.”

This comment is pure spin.  

How is this statement applicable to this particular case?  
The notice given wasn’t a week, it was less than 24 hours.

I don’t need to hear how the town or its contractors try to give notices, especially when another resident that lives adjacent to town park informed me through facebook that his notice didn’t even list the day or time.

This is completely amateurish, and unacceptable scheduling.

“However, due to the complex scheduling nature of some projects, shorter notice times are sometimes an unfortunate necessity.

When does scheduling of something like sewer maintenance get so complex that you have no other option but to do work the day following a national holiday and provide notice on said holiday less than 24 hours prior?

Because the town, or is contractors, are incapable of scheduling in a professional manner it results in an “unfortunate necessity” of a 12+ hour service disruption for residents of an entire street?

I don’t think so.

The town screwed up, and instead of admiting it, we get shovelled more P.R. bullshit:

“In some emergency cases – like water main breaks – there may not be any notice. In those cases our staff will go door to door to explain why the service has been disrupted.”

Again who cares.  This wasn’t an emergency.  It is not applicable to the issue!

Thanks for clouding the issue in layers of patronizing spin instead of taking responsibility.

Notice how this downright insulting response by the town only addressed the timelyness of the notice, it completely avoided several other points I raised:

1.) The notice was issued on Labour Day.

Think about that.  Who issues a notice on a national holiday?

Is the town, or through its contractors, happy with the position that it is employing people on labour day?

2.) The work exceeded the 12 hour duration listed on the notice.

There was no curtosy knock at the door to notify residents when the work was completed so that we knew when we could resume regular service.

3.) The entire house smelled horrible meaning the instructions provided were insufficient.

Wouldn’t the town be interested to know that so they could improve service for other residents?

4.) The entire issue of the town’s social media presence not allowing for customer feedback was not addressed.

I seriously doubt Mr. Ballantyne knew of, let alone attended The Science and Art of Social Business, a conference organized by the Canadian Marketing Association.  Therefore I expect that he would benefit from Hessie Jones’ views of that conference that he shared back in July here:  http://whatsyourtech.ca/2011/07/15/who-owns-social-media-a-canadian-marketing-association-roundtable/

“The auto sectors, airline travel, telecommunications — all are wrought with endless consumer discourse: good and bad. Can companies come down from their ivory towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships? Companies choosing to listen to what markets are saying about them should take it a step further and leverage the channel to appropriately respond for the purpose of defending, defining a solution and ultimately mitigating any blows to the organization.” 

He arrives at the conclusion that :

“Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously.  Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.  Finding the human voice is not an easy task….. it involves rethinking the PR role. This means that PR extends from relationship with media to relationships with consumers. It means understanding the impact of a single consumer voice and choosing to listen and respond. But it is also the right step in moving the organization to start developing a genuine view: to value the customer, adopt a little humility and commit to dealing with customer issues from the standpoint of integrity.”

After responding to the Auroran did Mr. Balantyne, or anyone from the town contact me regarding this issue?

No, why would they?

Ballantyne has reinforced that for himself and the Town of Aurora that customer service is nothing more than an “unfortunate necessity”.

For those of us lowly customers, service has become reduced to a total crap shoot.  It stinks, and those who continue to resolve customer service issues by using the corporate shovel only make things, and themselves, smell even worse.

It was expected that under the leadership of Mayor Dawe how the town hands it’s Public Relations when criticized, would change from a defensive and defelective stance common in the previous administration to an inclusive and problem solving one.

This doesn’t require a “strategy” or $5million in retrofits to a building.  It requires common sense and a willingness for those involved to ensure they listen to their bosses : the citizens of Aurora.

We deserve better.
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