In a world of smart appliances, I sought simplicity.

Instead, I tumbled into a spin cycle of process oversights that left me agitated—and it wasn’t just the rinse cycle to blame!

In my work, I often point out that conflict isn’t always caused by people but by processes and structures that don’t support flow. My following experience illustrates how small gaps in process can negate otherwise good design and service intentions.

My adventure begins with a  “Hold to Start” button. Despite its label, the washer refused to cooperate. As trial and error became my guide, more issues surfaced. Banging noise from my pipes after the water fill cycle made it clear: this wasn’t the smooth start I had anticipated. Something was definitely amiss.

Customer service as a good novel, as an engineer who works in organizational communication, I find calling customer service fascinating! I knew the problem wasn’t the washing machine, and I said as much.`

Their solution? Replace the unit entirely anyway.

Despite my initial resistance, I reluctantly agreed to their proposal. However, as the replacement date approached, my anxiety grew. The thought of an organization wasting resources to replace a functional machine didn’t sit well with me.

Taking matters into my own hands, I sealed the leaky performance! 

1. Design Oversight: The “Hold to Start” never works. It starts if you precisely stop holding immediately after five bulbs lit up. If you are a second too soon or too late—no start! It is too complex for a button label. If there was documentation, this could be easily explained.

2. Incomplete Installation Checks: The pipe banging or “hammering” effect was due to water pressure differences,  fixed by adjusting the water pressure valve. A complete cycle check at the install would have revealed.

3. Overeager Customer Service: Offering replacement as a blanket solution may satisfy some customers, but it’s costly and doesn’t address underlying issues.

Interestingly, when I called to cancel the replacement, I learned that the customer service representative owned the same washer and had experienced identical issues….hmmm?

So, the next time you face a seemingly simple product issue, remember: you might just be standing in front of a portal to organizational insight. Don’t be afraid to agitate for better solutions, rinse away inefficiencies, and help organizations iron out their wrinkles—particularly if it is your organization!

After all, in the laundromat of life, we’re all just trying to come out cleaner, brighter, and better-pressed. Let’s make sure our processes do the same.

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Karen Valencic
Copyright 2024