The key challenges in the above mentioned situation are that:
1) the communication was weak
2) distrust was among the team members
3) the team was not united and started blaming each other
4) no leader was involved
The main issue which led to the other challenges was that the communication between the sales person and the service person was very weak. Also, the sales person never communicated with the customer for a follow up which resulted into misunderstanding, assumptions and expectations between the sales person and the customer also. The sales person who was responsible for everything was never informed of the customer’s problem un till the situation became very complicated for the service person and frustrated for the customer. Strong communication is very important in the business world. The companies need to have a strong communication with each and every department and also with the customer. Even a minor communication glitch can result into the strain productivity of the organization (Writing, 2014) which was evident in this case.
The second challenge is that the team was not united and there was distrust among the team members which shows that although they were all working for the same company but they were not united. They were not trusting each other. If at first step the service person had called the sales person and informed him of the customer’s issue, the sales person could have jumped in and at least tried to satisfy the customer by justifying the problem. That would have saved the customer some time and money and he would not have been so much frustrated. Only when the customer realized that the things were not working out for him then he decided to call the sales person with whom he started his business first, and threaten him of not paying and not doing any future’s business. Then the service person was forced to inform the sales person of the situation. Until that time, the service person was not willing to trust the sales person and since the situation was concealed from the sales person, now he was too unwilling to put his trust in the service person. I think it was the company’s responsibility to fully teach their workers how to work like a team and trust each other in every situation whether difficult or easy. Trust between the team members is difficult to achieve but it is very important for the team success (Bodwell, 2002). This team had lack of trust which resulted in creating a difficult situation for all the parties involved and which also became a reason for the other key challenges.
The third challenge which was actually an outcome of the distrust among the team member was that the team members did not show their unity and started blaming each other for all the problems. The sales person started blaming the service person for mishandling the situation and the service person started blaming the sales person for other reasons. This thing shows that the team was not trained to stay united in the difficult situations nor were they properly aware of taking care of the problems. They were supposed to show their responsibility and instead of blaming the other person involved, each member was supposed to be more responsible and do some part in solving the problem. In a team the most important thing is the member’s sense of being responsible and ethical. If every member starts thinking that the work done or not done right was not my fault then the team cannot work effectively. The team members need to be more courteous, professional and respectful towards each other along with being courteous to the customer. This situation was an example of an uncourteous, unprofessional and disrespectful team members. The courtesy and professional work environment is usually noticed by the customer. They notice how the employee are courteous and responsive to each other in regard to the customers issues (World- Class Courtesy, n.d, sec 1.1). Unfortunately in this case, instead of taking a quick action and showing personnel interest in solving the customer’s problem nicely and professionally, the sales person as well as the service person started unprofessional argument. They were both putting blame at each other. None of them was found willing to take a step forward and think what they should do next to satisfy the customer and to avoid facing any such situation again.
The last but a very important key challenge was that no leader was involved or informed of the situation. It is interesting that in their own blaming, both the members involved forgot about getting the help of the team leader. There might be two reasons for that, either the team members did not want the leader to know about the situation or they did not feel the leader important enough to know everything which happened under the roof of the workplace. Both the assumptions are absolutely wrong. The team leader always have the importance and should always be informed about the difficult or unusual cases. The main job of team leader is to get the job done with the help of all the resources available (Using Teamwork, 2004, p. 2). The same thing should be considered for a difficult situation like this. The members should have involved the team leader. S/he might be able to handle the case differently, advice something better using the resources available or at least satisfy the customer better.
Bodwell, D. J. (2002). Trust, respect and support. High Performance Teams. Retrieved from http://www.highperformanceteams.org/hpt_trst.htm
Writing, A. (2014). The effect of poor communication in business. Hearst Newspaper. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effects-poor-communication-business-345.html
World Class Courtesy (n.d). A Best Practices Report. Retrieved from http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/papers/benchmrk/courtesy/chapter1.html
Using teamwork to build a better workplace. (2004). Business Case Studies. Retrieved from http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/cmi/using-teamwork-to-build-a-better-workplace/the-role-of-a-team-leader.html#axzz3FeyVuQKn
The case study detailed below deals with a company called Ricoh USA. Ricoh is a leading manufacturer of office, engineering, and some electrical equipment. The division in question deals with the engineering side of the business. This equipment is designed to print schematics, designs, and blue prints for structures to be built. The company, in the U.S. has a direct sales and service organization that work together to achieve profitable and sustainable results.
The market that this division serves in the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction space. During 2007 through 2009 this space was crippled by the financial meltdown and funding for new or existing project dried up. Since 2009 this market has been on an extremely low rise but a rise none the less. These AEC firms rely on the engineering equipment to print critical documents for new and existing structures.
The sales and service teams are broken up into branches, twelve in total throughout the country. These sales people sell the equipment directly to the AEC firms and the service people do the break/fix work. The sales and service teams will have roughly seven people on each side with two leaders of the group that work cohesively together to manage the business. In order for the sales people to be successful, the service organization needs to keep the customers happy by making sure the equipment sold is in good shape and consistently running. The sales people need to continue to feed the account base with new customers because inevitably you cannot keep 100% of your client base.
In a market such as this where so many market elements can affect the results, every sale is crucial. The sales people treat every sale as their most important, not just because sales in a down market aren’t easy to come by but because if they make the sale they make money and if not they do not. This is where the particular case rises, a situation of conflict between the sales and service people.
One of Ricoh’s engineering customers that currently has over ten systems was having some struggles in the Maryland office with a piece of equipment. Without the knowledge of the sales person who is the face of the organization and the overall account manager, the customer was beginning to get very frustrated with the poor performance of the equipment. The customer failed to report their dissatisfaction to the sales person because they assumed the service person would have told them but never did. Some time went on with continued service related issues causing the customer to lose time and money. This spurred the customer to contact the sales person and threaten returning the equipment and not paying their bill any longer. Additionally, they would discontinue purchasing other equipment until this was resolved.
The sales person, who rightfully was very upset decided to email the service person and critically ask them why they have not performed their job function of fixing the problem and also failing to alert them to the issue. They went on to unprofessionally accuse them of sabotaging the account because they could care less about making them happy. Unfortunately this turned into the service person firing back in a similar fashion accusing the sales person that they neglected their account and part of the reason for failure was training that sales should have provided.
The situation ended up getting worse because the service person, for a period of time put this troubled customer on the back burner, letting the situation come to a boiling point. Both sales and service didn’t escalate the conflict to the two team leaders and the relationship between sales and the service person suffered, which impacted more than one customer. During this time period, the sales person would often send emails to the service person pointing out poor performance. This caused service to neglect their duties and perform even worse. The email tradeoffs continued without the team leader’s involvement.
Finally, the team leaders were notified of the situation by other sales and service people who had been hearing things through the grape vine. The situation was dealt with by the two team leaders but took several months to resolve and create a team atmosphere again. The conflict did leave quite a few customers very unhappy. This situation that spun out of control negatively impacted the branches results for the year.