Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Intrinsicism vs. Customer Service

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Some time after we moved to Florida, the moment the kids were waiting for had come: Their new bunk beds arrived!

truck.jpg
Even "manual labor" requires thinking and good communication. (Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via Pixabay, license.)
Unfortunately for me, they arrived an hour early on a Saturday morning, while I was driving home from the pub after watching an Arsenal game live from England. Annoyingly, I found myself having to pull over to take or make phone calls with (a) my wife, (b) the delivery driver, and (c) the (useless!) dispatcher. I had chosen the delivery time window in the belief that I could get home in plenty of time to clear out my daughter's old bed before the delivery, so her bunk bed could be assembled. Since the bed was still there and it was against company policy to remove it for us, I ended up telling the driver to leave the boxes for her bed in our hallway: I'd put it together myself. Aside from the waste of an hour, that turned out fine, but I was very annoyed by the assumption -- wrong, but not too unreasonable, I'll grant -- that earlier is better. But the fact is, I chose the time window I did for a reason and I planned the rest of my morning around it.

Yes, probably ninety percent of the time, a customer (myself included) would appreciate getting a delivery out of the way early, but earlier is not necessarily better. Should anyone involved in scheduling engagements with customers happen by, I would ask that they keep in mind that the timing of an appointment happens within two contexts: that of the business and that of the customer. I am sure I would have gotten an apology for a late delivery, but I did not receive one for the early one. Worse, I wasn't even given the courtesy of a warning, much less a choice in the matter, regarding the timing of this delivery -- which was so far out of an already-generous window.

There no such thing as an intrinsically good action, including being early, as this example shows. The standard of virtue absolutely depends on context. Here, the standard would have been: Does this fit in with what the customer has been told to expect?

The inconvenience was not all on my end, although perhaps the deliverymen failed to realize it: One of my morning errands was to withdraw cash for tipping. The delivery was over by the time I made it home.

-- CAV

Link to Original

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree with Van Horn that there is no "intrinsically good action" -- which obviously includes "being early" -- I find the implicit suggestion interesting that this company looked upon being early as a kindness or a favor. I think it's far more likely (as it dovetails with my own experience) that the company/driver did not care much at all about Van Horn's schedule or request, and that the driver was simply operating at his own convenience. And I am not as confident as Van Horn is, that a late delivery would have automatically triggered either a warning or an apology. I've experienced late deliveries, and early deliveries, and delayed deliveries, and missing deliveries... but I don't know that I've ever had a service (let alone a driver) volunteer an apology.

It may be that in a more rational culture, businesses would interact in a certain way with their clients and customers... but in the here and now, I find that many of them are as irrational and unpleasant to deal with as the worst elements of the culture as it stands. Being in business does not appear to convey any particular virtue.

Edited by DonAthos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of an anecdote I heard but can't verify, which was disbelieved by one person I shared it with.

A researcher needed some radioactive materials.  If delivered too soon they would decay to uselessness before they could be used, so the researcher specified no earlier than a certain date.  A secretary changed that to no later than the specified date.  They arrived right away, making them useless.

The disbelieving person was a secretary who said no secretary would make such a change without asking the person who put in the request.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Reminds me of an anecdote I heard but can't verify, which was disbelieved by one person I shared it with.

A researcher needed some radioactive materials.  If delivered too soon they would decay to uselessness before they could be used, so the researcher specified no earlier than a certain date.  A secretary changed that to no later than the specified date.  They arrived right away, making them useless.

The disbelieving person was a secretary who said no secretary would make such a change without asking the person who put in the request.

I suspect the tracking "system" used by the shipping company did not provide the option for a secretary to choose a "no earlier than" date, but did have the option to enter a "no later than date", so instead of the machine being the tool...  the opposite occurred.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...