Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

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Case 2

Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy

Learning Goals
Companies often divide up work as a way to improve efficiency, but specialization can lead to negative consequences. DrainFlow is a company that has effectively used specialization to reduce costs relative to its competitors’ costs for years, but rising customer complaints suggest the firm’s strong position may be slipping. After reading the case, you will suggest some ways it can create more interesting work for employees. You’ll also tackle the problem of finding people qualified and ready to perform the multiple responsibilities required in these jobs.

The Scenario
DrainFlow is a large residential and commercial plumbing maintenance firm that operates
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The most frequent complaints Lee found in the customer surveys were about response time and cost, especially when the wrong person was sent to a job. A plumber’s assistant cannot complete a more technically complicated job. The appointment has to be rescheduled, and the customer’s time and the staff’s time have been wasted. The resulting delay often caused customers in these situations to decline further contact with DrainFlow—many of them decided to go with Lightning Plumber.

“When I arrive at a job I can’t take care of,” says plumber’s assistant Jim Larson, “the customer gets ticked off. They thought they were getting a licensed plumber, since they were calling for a plumber. Telling them they have to have someone else come out doesn’t go over well.”

On the other hand, when a plumber responds to a job easily handled by a plumber’s assistant, the customer is still charged at the plumber’s higher pay rate. Licensed plumber Luis Berger also does not like being in the position of giving customers bad news. “If I get called out to do something like snake a drain, the customer isn’t expecting a hefty bill. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place—I don’t set the rates or make the appointments, but I’m the one who gets it from the customer.” Plumbers also resent being sent to do such simple work.

Susie McCarty is one of DrainFlow’s order processors. She’s frustrated too when the wrong person is sent to a job but
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