How a client complaint is making us shrink in order to provide better service

Recently it was brought to my attention that we let a couple out-of-state clients down. When I say ‘out-of-state’, I mean outside of California. One was last year and one was more recently this year. Without going into the nuance of how we dropped the ball, they know who they are and that the following changes of policy here at Todd Olivas & Associates relate directly to their specific issue.

To briefly recap… we have been supplying court reporters around the country for a number of years. I think it was 2007 when I added our first few non-California suites to the list by negotiating a corporate rate with Regus. Almost immediately Google seemed to like my pages and all of a sudden we were getting work in Florida, Texas, New York, and many places in between. So we expanded the list to include even more suites — 760 in total — and the calls came in.

Around 2013 things drastically changed, however. First, it became harder and harder to cover the outlying areas without heavy travel fees and mileage incurred to the clients. Since a lot of the little cities don’t have individual local court reporters, the reporters from the big cities would have to make the drive. And it’s a long schlep sometimes so it made the fees goes up, unfortunately.

Second, we got a lot of requests for those smaller, more hard-to-reach regions that even the big conference suite providers (like Regus) don't cover. So in order to meet our clients’ needs, we would have to book in small hotels, motels, libraries, chambers of commerce, etc… anywhere that seemed professional enough to host a deposition. The difficulty of that approach is that sometimes those places change their policies overnight, or they have unsatisfactory conditions not visible online, or they up and move without notifying us or anybody else. Such is the case once when our 'conference suite' converted into a Chinese restaurant almost overnight between the time the client booked the job a few weeks prior and the time we were confirming the location.

So, what am I going to do about it? I’m going to scale down our database of conference rooms. As of today, August 18, 2016 we have changed our policy to not provide coverage in the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

We still offer over 400 conference suites in the following eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah. My hope is that by pruning back our coverage areas, though, we’ll be able to give even better quality service to the remaining areas. We'll also be calling out-of-state clients right away when there is a conference suite booked rather than relying solely on email. You wouldn't believe how many times an email ends up in the junk folder instead of being read. My goal is to never again have any more disappointing remote conference suite situations in the future. At the very least I know of a great new little Chinese place…

My apologies again to the two clients who we let down. I know for sure that if we were given the chance to prove ourselves in the future that we wouldn't let you down.

The list of conference suites and coverage areas is here: Conference Suite Locator

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

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