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How not to communicate with customers #1

My phone rings at work.

“Hello? I’m calling about the leak.”

“What leak? What’s happened?”

“The leak from upstairs.”

Oh. My pulse goes back to normal. Small leak, small insurance claim, opportunity to meet my upstairs neighbour in a situation where he wasn’t telling me I couldn’t install a smoke alarm because it was against building regs.

“That was a long time ago. We are waiting for the ceiling to dry out then it can be repainted.”

“Yes, I need to check the ceiling. It was 5 months ago that we last checked.” I remember it well. Staying in all morning so someone could come by and tell me that sometimes in old buildings it takes years for all the moisture to escape and that I should rip down all the wallpaper on the ceiling (yes, there’s wallpaper on the ceiling) to aid the drying process. Helpfully, he tore a bit off himself to show me what he meant. Then he left with no indication if he would return at some point before ‘years’ was up.

I decided I didn’t want to live with a bathroom with the ceiling falling off and didn’t tear down any more paper. I figured I’d have moved out before anything actually got done.

“Right. So what would you like me to do?” Now I’ve established who the mystery caller is. Five months of hearing nothing makes me wonder what the next step in this process actually needs to be.

“I’m standing outside your building, can I come now?”

“I’m at work.” Small panic. After waiting so long I don’t want him to escape if there’s a chance to get the ceiling put right. It will mean getting the deposit back after all. “I’ll see if I can arrange for someone to be in.”

I save the document I’m working on. A few phone calls later and the meeting is set up. Despite him saying he would be there tout suite he doesn’t show for an hour.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.

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