72 hours

Last Friday the Shaw tickeitng website went down. It made the news probably because it was slow news day. They interviewed several cinema patrons who displayed distress at the inconvenience. One even said that it’s shocking that something like this could happen during a popular period. She’s right. How dare the computer system break down on a Friday night of all nights? Couldn’t the system pick a less popular timing like Monday morning? Such inconvenience.

By Monday the website wasn’t fixed yet and some displayed displeasure. All the website had was a wall of text apologising for the inconvenience with instructions on what people could do. Even then it wasn’t enough. But again, people were impatient that Shaw has not gotten their act together.

It is through this incident that I realised the customer, well aware of his rights to being right, has little understanding, either by choice or ignorance, how organisations work. I had an experience long ago when I received an irate call from a customer on Monday, who called me mistakenly thinking I was in-charge of membership. He complained that he had sent in his application but hasn’t heard a peep from us. “It has been 72 hours and I haven’t received an acknowledgement from you!” I took his particulars down and mentally counted the days. I asked when did he send his application in and he replied Friday afternoon. Then I patiently explained to him that since he sent it on Friday, and it was only Monday, and that our office was closed on the weekends. Hence the team may have gotten his application but they are still processing it, which was why he hasn’t gotten a reply yet.

“Oh.”

Common sense is not common at all. At least what I thought was common knowledge is not common either. In this case, he thought people working in the office did so over the weekends too, hence jumping to conclusions and making judgement. With this realisation, I surmise that people do not understand how organisations do things, and in this Shaw case, fix problems.

In most organisations, when something happens or breaks down, it takes an organisation to fix it. An organisation is made up of a lot of people with different expertise. When a ticketing website goes down, it doesn’t just involve the IT team, they have to contact their servers to see what went wrong, contact the hosting people to check if it’s their end. Is it the ticketing system that went down? or the payment gateway? what is it? Then the operations people are pulled in to decide with the sales and finance people what’s the best way to sell tickets because it’s not just the act of selling tickets at the counters, it’s about accountability at the end of closing. Then the marketing people step in to see what they can do to inform the masses. All this while keeping the customer service people updated so they can deal with the angry people.

Now can you imagine all these people in one room talking at the same time? Doesn’t work? how about we take turns? Okay, who gets to talk first? Obviously the crux of the problem, the IT people. Who gets affected next? The ticket sales, what do we do about that? The marketing and communications people wait around to see if there’s a solution before they say anything, lest they give out the wrong information. God forbid if we gave out the wrong information to the public before we determined what happened. So let’s put up a “hang on, be patient, chill as we fix this problem” sign.

All this takes a couple of hours to happen.

A small voice quips, but we still have to put up more information on show timings because people may have forgotten how to check for show timings before the Internet was invented. In all the noise, they have forgotten one small yet important detail such as this. An interim website of sorts has to come up. While the IT folks are still looking into the problem, the marketing people scramble to put more information online. They called their web agency up.

I know for a fact agencies don’t start work at 8am. In fact many start late because they work late, past midnight sometimes. They also have more than one client. So while all this is happening, they may have been working on something else. Or having lunch. or in a meeting with another client. Or having a fire drill. Wow the possibilities are endless. But they finally get hold of the information, slap something together, and voila, the website now has show timings.

By now, hopefully chicken licken has stopped running. It’s a medicated plaster in place of what should be open heart surgery, but at least it’s something. Perhaps in a perfect organisation, things are done quicker with less “team work” required, I want to join that company. However the damage has been done. “It’s been 72 hours and Shaw hasn’t fixed their system yet? How preposterous!”

This may not be an accurate description of how some organisations work but it’s an idea of how some others might. While people think we are sitting around doing nothing, rest assured we are. It just doesn’t happen immediately because we’re not Hogwarts.

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2 comments

  1. LOL, great post. People are funny. When they’re being complete dipshits I just think about how little they know (despite them thinking otherwise).

    1. I acknowledge that if one hasn’t been in a situation, one won’t understand how things work and it’s really easy to draw one’s own conclusions, though with little information. but I’m really sick and tired of reading yet another complaint email “from the public” who thinks we sit around all day and compare nail colours. sometimes I read the comments that “the public” make about certain organisations boohoos and I get really exasperated.

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