Once upon a time, there was a certain trade press editor who lived in Suburbia, USA. He lived in a decent house with a nice little yard that hosted a fair number of very old, very tall, very awesome trees. These trees provided the Editor’s house with fabulous shade and made his back yard feel like a forest.

The Editor loved those trees.

One recent day, a storm flogged the area with powerful winds causing many trees to shudder throughout the land. In some areas, trees were toppled causing all kinds of problems.

One tree in the Editor’s back yard suffered a thunderous crack as one of its largest limbs (the size of a small tree itself) split, causing it to partially fall. It came to rest on a live power line attached to the Editor’s house.

This was not good.

So the Editor called seven (yes seven) tree service companies looking for help. Not one company called him back over a two-day period.

Not one!

Then the Editor called the local electric utility to report the situation, only to be greeted by an automated system that gave no options for his situation. So he opted for reporting a power line down.

Someone answered the phone immediately and listened to his tale of woe.

I am sorry sir,” the person said. “Our policies dictate that we cannot come out and correct the situation unless the wire is on the ground.”

The Editor was flabbergasted. “So you’d rather be reactive and wait until there is a deadly, dangerous situation than be proactive and nip the issue in the bud?” he asked.

I am sorry sir. These are our policies. If the wire comes down, call back and we will send a team out immediately. In the meantime, we can schedule you for a trimming service from our forestry department. Someone will call you in one to 10 business days to set up an appointment.

Seeing that he had no choice, that is what our intrepid hero did and hoped the branch wouldn’t rip out that power line for a week.

Then he had a thought. He called the utility back and reported the wire was actually down. Within two hours a crew was out and, while it continued to rain and the wind swirled, they tackled the irksome branch with real professionalism.

The workers methodically planned their moves. They climbed into the tree, secured the broken limbs, then chainsawed, cut, and hacked until the danger was no more. They left with a tip of their hats after explaining that because it was raining, their policies dictated they were not to remove the material strewn all over the yard.

And away they went. One of the workers accidentally left behind his safety vest. The Editor tried to call the utility to let them know, but once again the automated system simply didn’t let him leave a message about the vest or the quality of service.

Was the Editor pleased? On one hand, yes, for the danger had been alleviated. On the other hand, he felt both the tree service and utility industries left a bad taste in his mouth. So the overall experience was negative.

The moral of this story: Don’t let your policies get in the way of a customer’s experience. Tree service companies and High-Performance HVAC Contracting companies are both in business to make and keep customers. I am sure summer is equally as busy for the tree services as it is for HVAC contractors. But that shouldn’t be the excuse to not always put your best foot forward.

And for goodness sake, don’t rely only on automated systems to help customers. They don’t help. They frustrate. And that is an epic fail.

What are your thoughts on the policy versus experience question? I would love to hear from you either below in the comments box or directly from our ContactMe page.