Exceeding expectations not always good

Last Friday I took the day off work to watch the kids while my wife took a bunch of cub scouts (we’re Bear Den leaders now) to day camp. Since I knew I’d be home, I arranged a few things for Friday, as well. We agreed to let a company come add insulation to our attic, and our lawnmower repairman was going to drop off the repaired mower. The insulation guys called on Thursday to say  they’d come at 9:00 am, and the mower guy said he’d come between 1 -4 pm.

The insulation guys showed up at 8:30 am. The mower guy showed up around noon. Yes, I know I usually say “under promise, over deliver”. That does not necessarily refer to the agreed-on time. If you say you’re coming at a particular time, certainly don’t show up late. But showing up early is not necessarily a positive, either. In this case I had planned my day with the idea that they’d come at any time, so it wasn’t a problem. But it could have been. I could have had a tightly-planned day, and their showing up early without even calling first might have caused us all some difficulties.

I don’t want to be too hard on either party. The insulation guys otherwise did great. They had over-estimated the cost on their initial bid, and that ended up costing us less. They are confident in their ability to get us a rebate from the power and gas companies that they only billed us for what they expected the rebate wouldn’t cover. They did a pretty good job of treating the house gently and not making a mess. So far I’d have no trouble recommending them. But the showing up early without calling could have been a much bigger problem had my day been planned differently.

The mower guy seems to have done well, too. The mower certainly works, and he seems to have not tried to milk us for everything he might have. He may have sensed that too much more and I’d just go get a new mower, but he took the time to show me how to get around the remaining problem with the mower that he didn’t fix. But again, I might not have been there when he showed up because I assumed the time he told me was accurate and made plans around it.

I’ve had workmen before who have called to let us know they’d be early and if that would be okay. That’s was great, and worked out well. That one call didn’t cost them much, if anything, and went just that extra little step toward showing that they cared about every aspect of our experience with their company. It’s the little things that count. I’d still go with these guys again, and I’d recommend them, but I can’t quite mark it down that they “delighted me” or “exceeded my expectation,” because I expected them to come when they’d said, not late and not early (5-10 minutes is not worth mentioning). Perhaps it’s nit-picky on my part, but that’s how I roll, I guess.

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2 Responses to Exceeding expectations not always good

  1. Robyn Taylor says:

    I have to agree, that when people arrive early unannounced, it drives me nuts. While it’s a welcome relief that they aren’t late, most of the time I have already prepared myself for them to show up at a particular time. If they arrive early, I may not be ready for them yet even if I am home. I almost feel sorry for whoever makes an appointment to come over – they are in trouble if they are early and in trouble if they are late. Maybe we are just too picky.

    • Thom says:

      I had a person scheduled to come give me an estimate on a project who, on the morning he was supposed to come, gave me a call to explain that his earlier appointments had fallen through and asking if he could come earlier than planned. I thought that was great. It gave me a chance to either say no or get ready for him to come. It seems to me that was the perfect way to handle the situation.

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