Taking the Call

Sometimes listening to your customers and assuring them you have their interests at heart goes a long way.

I got a call the other day from a woman in Milwaukee. She had sewer issues. She needed someone to talk to.

Municipal Sewer & Water is an industry publication; it is written for operators, technicians, superintendents, engineers and the like. It’s not a magazine for homeowners, but my caller had been online and came across some of our content and reached out for help.

She was having issues with water seeping into her basement, along with the lateral line backing up. The city’s records for her house showed two lines running to the house, although she only had one sewer connection. That line did, however, tie in with the neighbor’s line. She had a contractor come and inspect the lateral all the way out to the street. Even though it was backing up, it was not obstructed.

She also had the seepage issue. She’d hired a contractor to come in and put a drainage system around the house, but it wasn’t working at all. Water was pooling around it. Worse, it was still getting into the basement. She’d suffered a significant amount of property damage. Her house smelled. When she called professionals for help, she either got no answers or more problems. Neighbors offered a variety of theories, but here she was calling me.

She knew I wasn’t going to make the four-hour drive to Milwaukee, but she wanted someone to talk to, someone with nothing to sell and no stake in the situation who might offer some insight. I was quick to point out that I have no plumbing, excavation or sewer repair training.

All my knowledge has come from you. I’ve talked to countless water and wastewater operators, sewer cleaners and rehabilitation specialists. I’ve listened to your stories, I’ve read case studies and I’ve done everything I can do to give myself a solid understanding of your work and the problems you face.

I’m not here to tell you how to do anything. You’re the professionals in the field. But I am here to take your stories and share them with your peers, to help you learn from each other’s successes. In the process, I’ve learned quite a bit myself.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t give this woman technical advice. I couldn’t do any physical work for her. But I could point out that if she had a contractor come in to install a system that hasn’t worked from day one, she had every right to get them back on site to rectify the situation.

As for the backup issues, I suggested a couple avenues to track down answers and wished her good luck.

We were on the phone for quite a while and she obviously felt better and more confident in her course of action by the time we were done. She just needed someone to talk through it with her.

That goes a long way. Even when you can’t immediately solve your customers’ problems, you can still address their concerns and show them you have their best interests at heart. That’s really what matters most to people, and you always have that ability.

Here’s to treating your customers right.

Enjoy this month’s issue.



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