#FrontierFail & Frontier Lies… Why Competence is Required Before Lean
I think I'm done complaining about Frontier Communications on Twitter. It's been a very frustrating week, as I'm on day 6 of a complete internet outage. You can read my long rant about it here on LinkedIn:
I'd like to think it was more than the typical rant against a cable company providing poor customer service (that's an old, unexpected problem)… I tried to raise issues about:
- Why do companies lie to customers?
- Why would a company reach out via a new technology (Twitter) only to just tell the customer a bunch of lies?
- What goes wrong when a company insists that an employee (in a call center or an online chat function) be fully utilized instead of focusing on customer flow?
- Do some of these same issues happen in hospitals?
I imagine some of my followers heard about this and said something like, “Geez, that's not very Lean of Frontier. They should get Lean.”
I have no idea if Frontier uses Lean or Lean Startup methods. A Google search only brings up references to McLean, Illinois.
In my experience, Frontier has issues that run far deeper than anything Lean could fix… looking at Lean as a process improvement methodology or a culture and management system.
If a company is cost focused or efficiency focused instead of being customer focused, then maybe they shouldn't bother with Lean.
If a company has basic integrity issues… if they're willing to lie to a customer multiple times about a tech coming out or a manager calling about the situation, Lean can't fix that.
Or, maybe Frontier wasn't lying to me… maybe they are just very incompetent. Lean can't fix that. I've always seen Lean transformations being more of a “good to great” situation (with apologies to Jim Collins) instead of Lean being something that helps a completely messed up organization get good (unless that organization has a leadership change, like I saw at GM).
I was talking the other day with one of the hospital CEOs who will be on the panel I'm moderating at this year's Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit in June.
“If you're not predisposed to listen to your employees' ideas, then maybe Lean isn't for you.”
There are certain fundamentals that have to be in place for Lean to have a fighting chance. That includes integrity, trust, customer focus, respect for employees, etc. It also requires a basic level of competence at doing what you do. The hospital CEO said that most hospital CEOs aren't willing or able to “change their spots” at that point in their career. That makes CEOs like Dr. Gary Kaplan and Dr. John Toussaint so unusual.
I've met healthcare leaders at all levels who discovered that Lean was quite intuitive and natural to them. That was because these individuals already shared the beliefs and views that we see in Lean organizations. The Lean mindsets made sense to them… and Lean gave them a way of operationalizing those principles and mindsets.
So, Frontier is a huge mess. They've acquired large customer bases in Florida, Texas, and California and many customers are upset. I'm not the only one with a long outage. I'm not the only one who isn't receiving any updates or apologies from Frontier. I'm not the only one complaining about “no show techs.” I don't see any evidence that Lean would be a helpful strategy for Frontier.
The only good thing I can say about Frontier is that I was able to get my service canceled. They claimed there would be no penalty or cancelation fee. I'm not sure if that was because I had only been a customer 30 days or because I threatened to file complaints with the PUC and FCC (turns out the PUC doesn't regulate cable companies). They also said they were only charging me for March 23 to March 31… not after April 1. But, that could be due to the widespread billing problems that Frontier is having.
Not a Good Start for Time Warner
I'm not sure things are going to go better with Time Warner Communications, but I can't stand doing business with Frontier after they've lied to me so many times. A lack of integrity is worse than not being able to provide the service I'm paying for.
When I signed up online for Time Warner cable to replace Frontier, the website allowed me to sign up online for “Self Install” which I would have hoped could occur on Thursday.
The website validates that you have a valid address and, I assume, that you're in their service area.
When I went to pick up the equipment, I was told I couldn't self install because:
1) I had existing service with a different provider
2) I hadn't been a Time Warner customer at that address before
I'm not sure how many people really qualify for “self install” then.
They could have easily asked those two questions on the website and I could have saved a trip to the Time Warner office and about 30 minutes of my time. They could have, in effect, “error proofed” against me trying to choose self install when I wasn't eligible.
Time Warner's internet is one third the speed of Frontier FIOS… for basically the same price. That's not good, but I'd rather have slower internet that works.