A few months back, I went with a group of people (60 or so) to a wonderful ropes course in Victoria, BC (blog post here). We all took buses from the hotel to the ropes course. In our package deal, we were promised a box lunch when we got back on the bus.
After four hours in the ropes course, we were ALL hungry and ready for that lunch! We got back to where the bus was supposed to meet us and there was no bus. My spidey senses kicked in and I suggested that we call to see where the bus was. But the organizer of the group talked me out of calling. We waited 20 minutes until I could take it no more and I begged the organizer of the group to phone for the bus. There was no answer. We waited another 10 minutes. It was cold. We were hungry. And there was no bus.
We couldn’t get a hold of the bus company so I phoned the hotel, talked to the manager and asked him to look into the situation. He phoned back and said that the buses had quit for the day and had left us stranded. This is where it gets interesting. The owner of the bus company drove in his personal vehicle to tell us why they weren’t picking us up. It turns out that they were contracted for 3 round trips to bring our group to the ropes course and bring us back. And they did three round trips. They actually went above and beyond and did four round trips.
Only, the return trips were all empty. They ran empty buses. And when they had fulfilled their contractual obligation, they quit. Sure, they had 27 extra lunches left over and yeah, they hadn’t actually picked us all up but hey, their contractual obligation was filled. They were done. The contract didn’t specify that they had to pick up everyone – just that they had to do the trips. They went through the motions but didn’t succeed at their mission: to safely carry our group to and from the hotel to the ropes course and back.
We all eventually got back to the hotel in time to catch our ferry back home but the lesson learned for me is life changing. Measuring the right things changes the entire picture. The bus driver measured one thing (trips) when what really mattered was another thing (people).
Where in life are you measuring the wrong things? Where are you counting the trips when you should be counting the people?
Jean from SoapArt says
Interesting post, Anne-Marie. It prompts me to take a look at what I do and why I do it. I see application opportunities of your “Measuring the right things changes the entire picture” statement in my personal life, soap business, and my job as an educator.
Thanks for another inspiring blog post.
When the bus company did their hiring, did they request that potential employees leave their common sense at the door?
I hope the owner of the bus company gives his employees a good talking to since this sort of experience will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and will likely cost him future business.
Things aren’t always what they seem. My thought was perhaps the Rope Company oversold on their end and didn’t account for the additional time for the course and adjust the bus schedule.
Why would they contract for 3 hours service and then be late for that service. Just a curious situation and it will cost the bus company negative marketing feedback.
Curious the the spirit of the law or the letter of the law.
Totally agree with you – in this case, the letter of the law was that they were contracted for 3 hours of driving. But, on the other hand, the spirit of the law would definitely call for them to pick up the entire group. You bring up a great point about nuances and grey areas though.
Lisa K says
I agree..no common sense. Sounds like a bad movie!
Wonder how long that company will stay in business, lol! The owner of the bus company should know that return business and word of mouth are seeds for the future. Their reputation will cause it to go under, especially if they are catering to groups.
I could not have explained that, “Yes, we made the trips, only no one was on the bus and now we are closed,” with a straight face and a happy heart. That is silliness!
Feeling good about what I do makes all the difference in the world. Hopefully, the bus company will rethink (or just think in general) 😀
There’s nothing like an adventure after an adventure!
This just had to be either lack of common sense or total lack of caring! And you had the correct ‘gut instinct’ from the beginning Ann Marie! Always go with your gut instinct… I have had to learn this lesson a few times. Glad to hear that everyone made it home.
Theresa Fletcher says
annnnd the bus driver never said, “hmmmm… how are all of these people ever going to get back if I’m empty?” Now I can see if there was a specified time for pick ups for the return trips, but by the second empty bus, the little light bulb should have went on…
Sorry A-M that your trip didn’t go as planned, but you were able to pass along a great message. Nothing impresses me more than a company that goes out of their way for you, or even shows a human side by confessing an honest mistake or a difficulty in serving you.
Sadly, this happens so often. “Well, we fulfilled the obligation.” or “We did what the contract specified.”
Yes, but at what cost. I have a list of policies that I’m just starting for my business. It’s a living document that changes as we grow and change. Number one on that list? “Give Exceptional Customer Service” Giving enough isn’t always good enough. Especially since in the world of social media, people are empowered to tell everyone they know about what a bad/good experience they had.
I always try to provide the kind of service I would like to receive from every company, because a product can be phenomenal/amazing/the best ever, but if the service sucks, I’m not going back.