Contingency planning is supposed to fix all a project manager’s problems instead I have found that it can extend the things that you find hysterically funny. We are in the process of relocating our office. The team did all the project management processes and then reality happened.
The local telephone company, after checking with them 3 times, decided there will be no telephone service until April 8th because someone forgot that Good Friday and Easter Monday are company holidays. The contingency plan was to forward the calls to my cell phone but of course that was fully billable. This wouldn’t be a big deal but our 800-mentors number is one digit off Mentor Corporation in California. Their number is 800-mentor8. The phone calls have been extremely entertaining. I didn’t know that you could warranty breast implants or that most of the people who have them can’t tell the difference between an S and an 8.
Today’s calls, the one’s where I wasn’t on the phone, were from someone who needed to pay the $100.00 to ensure the insurance was valid (didn’t know they could be insured), from someone who couldn’t believe I couldn’t transfer them to a no-existant extension in California, and the repeat caller who still believes that I am just being difficult.
I knew that it is critical for a project manager to have a sense of humour, but honestly, this might be carrying it too far. Especially, when the people, who obviously can’t read, insist that you are wrong because they have a card that says they are right. The conversations started with “I want to insure my breast implants”, followed by ” you have called the wrong number, you need to call 800-mentor8″, followed by “I have a card and the number on the card has this number on it”, followed by ” if you look carefully at the card, the last number is an 8 not an S”, followed by a dial tone. The next three phone calls from the same woman followed exactly the same pattern.
I travel a lot so my team in the office are usually on the receiving end of these calls. I, now, understand why the guys cringe when the phone rings. I can’t imagine the shyest member of the team having to answer these questions. I also understand why they think it is a lot fun for me to answer the phones on days when I am in the office.
Back to the Truth in Packaging Laws, we receive a tremendous number of phone calls from women who have had breast implants. So many in fact (15 years worth), our team can tell you when the most popular times of the year are for these surgeries, who typically buys them, and what hospitals or medical providers don’t review the material with the patient. If Mentor Corporation would change the font on the warranty card or the size of the warranty card, we wouldn’t receive any of these calls. It might reduce lawsuits. After all, it is all about customer service or lack thereof.
The risk is that if they or their medical care providers call our number after hours or on the weekend, there is no one to redirect the call. It could be a life and death situation and we wouldn’t know until 12 hours or 48 hours later that there was a problem.
The nugget for today is “clearly document all the information needed to take the next steps in the process or to deal with any anomalies. Never label anything in a font that isn’t easily readable. Especially, if it is a warranty card for a new body part.” Contingency planning can have positive, negative, unexpected and humourous results.