A while ago I was a shift lead at an alarm monitoring company. We monitored all sorts of alarm systems for other companies. My day to day job was mostly talking to people when their home or company alarm went off and calling their local dispatch when necessary, or being sent the angry customer who thought we should have done something differently. There was a whole other side to it that we at the monitoring center almost never dealt with having to do with the companies that contracted with us. They were our real clients, the ones who paid us to take care of their customers under their company name. We called them dealers.
One night around 10 pm I got sent a call and was warned that the person is not happy. This time of night, monitoring was the only part of our business open, since it’s 24 hours. This meant I was the highest up in the chain you could go until morning, and this situation ended up being way above my pay grade. Corporate and dealer care (the department this will eventually need to be kicked to) are in a different location and have regular office hours.
The guy was calm, but clearly at the end of his rope. He was a dealer, and not just anybody at the company, but the owner of a company that had several thousand accounts with us. I’ll skip over the boring details of why, but essentially we’d been messing up his accounts for a long time, largely because of our software misinterpreting a certain signal from his systems. His customers were pissed, he was pissed, we had promised him over and over we would fix it and hadn’t. That night a customer had police break down their door over a signal we should have ignored.
I had no knowledge of any of the technical coding so was limited to going over what happened that night, apologizing every other sentence, and adding big red bolded pop up notes to all his accounts so operators knew what to look for and didn’t send police on these signals. I assured him I was sending an email to dealer care that they needed to contact him first thing in the morning. He said, “No. I want a personal phone call from [manager of dealer care] by 9:30 am or I’m cancelling my contract with you”. So I promised I would send the manager an email tagged urgent with all the info and leave him a voicemail expressing just how urgent this was. If we had been in the same building I might have even taped a note to his door.
I took myself out of queue and composed a very detailed email for the manager. It started with the urgency for damage control bit, then I compiled specifics – when, where, signal codes I didn’t understand but were stamped in the accounts, the recording of my call with the dealer, absolutely everything I thought might be helpful so the manager didn’t have to go digging in this mess and give them a better chance of keeping these thousands of accounts. When I felt like I had everything together, I hit send and immediately got an auto reply that he was out of the office for 2 weeks.
Knowing there was no way he’d be handling it and the dealer wouldn’t be happy with a regular rep, I decided to thoroughly cover my ass. I forwarded that super detailed email (plus a note that the dealer specifically requested the manager contact him) to the general email for dealer care, the manager’s boss (VP of sales), my boss (office manager), and my boss’s boss (VP of operations). Then crossed my fingers.
When I got into work the next afternoon I had 2 emails about it.
First a reply all from the VP of sales: “This should only have been sent to dealer care. Do not escalate or bypass them.”
Then a reply all with a CC to the president from the VP of operations: “Thank you for bringing this serious issue to our attention. [Dealer] is a very important client and should be treated as such. We have clearly dropped the ball on resolving the ongoing problem. I will handle this personally. Do not hesitate to contact me on issues like this in the future.”
It wasn’t in VP of operations’ job description to do damage control with dealers, but in a few sentences she took on the task while shaming the VP who should have handled it to his boss and his subordinates.
In the end, I have no idea how she kept those accounts, but she did. The misinterpreted signal issue was corrected within the week and my pop up notes were written into the step by step program we used at monitoring as a fail safe.