Communication- A Serious Trouble

Proper communication is the key for any successful business. Be it any kind of communication- verbal, written, or telephonic we need to take precaution while putting our thoughts across. I have come across many problems which have been related to communication or shall we say miscommunication of some or the other kind.

Although it’s a pretty old story now, but I would like to share it with you all, let me present it as a case study and ask for your views and suggestions on it.

This company I was working with was dealing in Diagnostic Machinery, the machines we all get our blood test, urine and other tests done. These were all imported machines as the company in India had their sales office and manufacturing was being done in Germany.

In the Indian office most of the employees were Sales, Marketing and Service Engineers (who were trained in repairing or trouble shooting these machines at client side). Also the support functions like HR, Administration, logistics etc. were there.

Coming to the case now, one afternoon a call came to our sales executive, lets call him Sachin, from the biggest lab in the city who had purchased the machine, the Lab guy Ashish, was facing some problems in the machine, which needed to be resolved at the earliest as they had lots of blood samples at their premises and the reports needed to be generated within a day’s time. So Ashish asked Sachin to send some Engineer at the earliest.

Sachin who was in a meeting with some other client called the Service engineer Saurabh, and briefed him about the problem and asked him to go to the client’s side for trouble shoot.

Saurabh, who was also busy with trouble shooting at client’s side, told him about his schedule and informed him that once he is free he will report there.

Again in the evening Ashish called Sachin to know about the availability of the Engineer, Sachin informed him that the complaint had been booked with the service Engineer and he would be there once he gets free.

Next morning at Lab, the owner of the Lab asked about the reports of all the blood samples, Ashish then informed him about the problem in the machine. Ashish then again called Sachin to know when the machine will be repaired. Sachin assured him about the availability of the Engineer by afternoon.

Ashish calls Sachin again and this time he could not answer his call, so the matter was reported to the Lab owner.

The Lab Owner calls the Sales and Marketing Director of the Company and narrates the entire story, till this time the Engineer had not reported to the Lab.

When summoned both Sachin and Saurabh deny their role in non compliance of the company rules of reaching the client within 24 hours. None of them takes the onus of having done anything wrong. Sachin, said he did his duty by informing Saurabh, whereas Saurabh said that he told Sachin that he cannot go as he was already stuck at another client’s place for trouble shooting which took him 2 days.

Another thing I would like to mention here is that, the Lab we are talking about used to give us the highest revenue and it was the largest Lab at that point of time in the whole city.

Finally the machine gets repaired and things get sorted.

Now, it’s been many years since this case has happened, but whenever I think on this I fail to understand who was at fault. Was it Saurabh, Sachin or Ashish?

There was surely a communication Gap somewhere, but who was the main culprit in the whole case?

Do pour in your inputs so that after all these years I can get some peace.

Will share the climax with you all later, what did we do in the end, who got punished etc.….. :)

  • Abhishek Uniyal

    Hi !
    To me it seems to be a process laps more thn the communication gap. From the case stated above it seems there was no proper mechanism for complaint handling and no wonder if this was not the only case of delay in service.

  • Manuezhamparambath

    As for me I would hold our sales exec Mr.Sachin responsible to some extent followed by Saurabh along with the below point highlighted since Sachin had missed out an important part of follow up so as to ensure that the customer’s issue was resolved or else could have a gone for an alternative if the service Eng had not attended the call after his follow up , Saurabh contributed by not updating at the end of the day or as the day closes in about his inability to attend the call and finally for a proper complaint handling process not in place.

  • Sreejing

    I also agree with Abhishek. All should get proper training and also must understand their duties and resposibilities. If this is the first case then ok,but the Head should take steps to not repeat these types of problem again.

  • Viswanathan

    This case seems to me, a representation of communication failure and assuming that once the job has been entrusted to the field representative it would be completed. Mr. Sachin must be knowing that the lab is their biggest customer and hence needs proper customer care. Mr. Sachin, knowing that the company’s policy is to attend complaints are attended with in 24 hours he should have ensured that some representative reaches the lab with in that stipulated time.
    Saurab, on his part, must have kept Mr. Sachin informed about his inability to attend to the Lab’s work as he was held up in the present job. He should have asked for clear instructions from Mr. Sachin so that the responsibility rests with Mr. sachin to make a decision.

  • Knvijaykumar

    I feel that the story is fabricated without much thought. In the first place, there ought to be a team of dedicated Service Engineers, who are responsible, dedicated and efficient. No Company on earth can depend on just one Rajesh or Saurabh for service care. Effective Customer Care and After-Sales-Service are the core area of any company to the best of its credibility, reliability, repuration and goodwill. No client will return, if they don’t get proper service. As such, what is implied is that someone from the Service team should have attended the faulty equipment immediately on receiving the call. What is important is the quick response that satisfies the customer. It is also essential to repair/recondition the faulty equipment without loss of time will save the business and profit of the client and that is the primary responsiblity of the supplier.
    Hence, rather putting the blame on two inviduals, I call the supplier Company irresponsible and inefficient as stringent patter of procedures must be laid down and adhered meticulously by all concerned to prove your worth. And that is essential for the very existance of any company, its profit and viability.

  • Paraman P

    It is a common problem occured in many organisation. My openion is this, the Salem & Marketing Director is responsible for this case. He should aware of the availability of sufficiant technicians as per the needs of the quantity of sales. If the no of machines/equipments is more thatmuch of technicians should be avail. This occurs because of the scarcity of technicians. Also, sometimes the technicians should work in additional time as per the requirements and every organnisations should train them and also encourage them.
    -p. paraman

  • Mayankadixit

    Hello ma’am ,
    It Is Really very useful And Interesting Example Of Communication Gap . I think In this case Mr. Sachin at Fault because , When Saurabh Told him that he was busy with some other Client ‘ s Side . Then It Is a Duty Of Sachin To Convey this problem to another Service Engineer.

    I Am Waiting For Climax .

    Mayanka Dixit

  • Ocayapp

    Dear Archna and all,
    Thanks so much for the case study which, although not new, represents real communication problems that unfortunately persist in organisations including even at the household level.

    Before I come to who the main culprit is, my observation is that we need to have systems in place that are crystal clear especially on critical aspects of the business. In the case it is mentioned that the rule for instance is “to reach the client within 24 hours”. We are not told on the effectiveness of the communication and outcome, the most important question that such systems should address is whether issues raised are timely and satisfactorily addressed and if such a problem is beyond the company, the responsible person takes the onus of informing the client of the inability to solve the problem within the 24 hours so that the client looks for another alternative.

    Returning to the case, and assuming that the system is effective, my diagnosis is that the main culprit is Sachin,the Sales Executive. After informing the Service Engineer,he should have called Ashish,the Lab Guy,to give feedback that the Engineer was still busy or take decision immediately on alternative, not to wait quietly from afternoon till evening.
    Sachin should have appreciated that the work needed immediate attention, the client being major stakeholder and time was an essence- within a day.He did not have to own the problem by refusing to take the clients call, bad,rude and irresponsible manner, he should have earlier on told the Lab owner if he had difficulty assigning an engineer to attend to the concern.
    Sashis ,the Lab Guy becomes the second culprit, as he should have notified owner ,either immediately or on second call to Sachin,that he has been trying to get the Service Engineer to come to no avail, so that the owner intervenes, in time.
    Saurabh,the Service Engineer’s share of the problem was failure to call back , in time ,to inform Sachin,the Sales Executive that the work required more time, and seeking advice on way forward. If he had done that,Sachin would have then decided whether to ask him to temporarily leave this work and rush to help Ashish solve the problem. However Sachin will take this blame because of his oversight role. He should have made a follow up on Saurabh. RESPONSIBILITY DOES NOT STOP WITH PASSING OVER INFORMATION,IT CONTINUES UNTIL THE DESIRED OUTCOME IS SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISSED,AND SO IS THE COMMUNICATION!!!!!!!!!.


  • Krishna Ramachandran

    The problem is no one was looking at the problem to find solution but very keen on discharging their duty. But the lab technician must own the responsibility for the situation. He must have turned the hell and the Heaven to get the machine repaired by repeatedly projecting on the volume of work that will be left behind for he is the person on the field.

  • Mkavasthi

    Dear Mam,
    Its interesting example of communication gap. Here mr.sachin who is sales executive didn’t take care of customer complaint. If mr.. surabh was busy with other client, sachin has to tell some other or immediate inform to Ashish and give specific information.



  • Vinay

    The following issues emerge
    1.there appear to be unresolved ego/working problems between Sachin and Saurabh.Some amount of hostility is palpable.
    2.The Company/both these persons/others has/have dealt with customers in such a similar manner earlier but however matters have not been reported to higher level out of consideration by the customer.
    3.The System of logging and monitoring complaints assigning repair completion does not appear to have been put in place.
    4.The Company did not have a system of identifying its important clients.
    5.Sachin appears to have been given the sole responsibility of Sales and repair.He appears to be focussing more on sales and giving less importance on repair though this will definitely cause a credibility crisis.
    6.The method of preparing work order/job card and the responsibility of allocation of work to the Service Engineer/s have not been given in detail and it appears that Saurabh was the only person available to repair the machine.The Company needed to evaluate the genuine requirements of additional service engineers.
    7.Saurabh appears to have this incident to bring disrepute to Sachin -the quantum of work that he was doing needs to be compared with time taken on similar repairs earlier.
    8.The company does not appear to have professional management in the repairs/servicing Dept.

  • Arunpunasya

    There was a need of a proper follow up from all the three regarding the solution of the problem…………but two company people are the mainly on mistake,and if you want to know the main culprit than it was sachin who….was not bothered with his duty properly.

  • Pooja Goyal

    Hi Archana,

    First, we must understand that it was an official callwhich means that it involves two entities. Moreover, it was from a prestigious client.Here, the executive sachin is not an individual but representative of the said co. It was SOS condition. He should have been esclated the call either to the concerned department or should have esclated the request to the concerned head so that as per availability he/she could render prompt service as expected. It was a bad show and shows casual attitude towards job. I feel that this example shall be presented to all new entrants and they shall be advised to be sincere and sustain absolute professionalism at work.It was an act of negligence and an explanation is to be seeked on the same.I may sound harsh though such actions put the company’s worth at stake! Also, saurabh, the Engineer could have expressed his inability to attend request and requested for an alternate. That could have saved you.
    However, both lacks commitment. You should issue a cab letter and an apology note shall be send to the concerned diagnostic lab to reassurance of better services and maintain the business link.

  • Mohit Agrawal

    Dear Mayanka,
    I fully agreed wid you, It was the responcibility of Sachin. He knows very well that Saurabh is too busy and doing their job, instead of this Sachin informed to Sourabh only, If he was not casual then definitly make some other arrangement or communicate to seniors to solve the problem.

    Mohit Agrawal

  • Swapna

    Story is very useful and worth reading . I feel it is sole responsibility of sachin to arrange other service engineer in a stipulated period of time

  • karthikeyan

    Sachin is to be blamed for this, since he attended the call and he has the responsibility to solve it in an amicable manner. It happens only in India.

  • Pandu Gagrai

    All three have lack of commitment towards the company. They were doing only duty. All three r responsible.

  • Raman PAK

    Dear all

    Is it a process failure or communication failure ??
    If it is a process failure, it is the management which is responsible, as the mature planning, design & implementations failed – it reflects on maturity level of management which itself seems to be still in the process of learning even the fundamentals of management
    If it is a communication failure, it is again a failure of management, as either they failed to recruit good hands from the available man-power market at the time of recruitment or failed to orient / train the man-power as needed on communication and system processes.
    A company to become world class should learn, train and perfect it’s management first – otherwise it will end up only hanging human resources which may be otherwise resourceful. More weight of penalty deserves to be placed on Management and less weight on staff who failed to deliver.

  • Mustapha_shehuri

    The system on ground is not clear enough to guide the staff, if not Saurabh surpost to have back up to cover him when he/she is busy. The sales executive should call Ashish back and tell him/her the cause of delay so that he/she will use another alternative. The cuiprit are Sachin and the Management.

    Thank you,

    Mustapha A.

  • Dwarkanath_rao

    Mr.Sachin should have taken proper followup with the engineer i.e Mr.Saurabh. Incase if saurabh was busy then there should have been proper co-ordination for to inform Mr.Ashish the exact situation so that Mr Ashish would have also taken precautinoery measures – dwarkanath

  • Promodpk

    I think there is the problem with the management since the employees do not seem to be well motivated and committed.There appears to be a ‘gap’ between the employer and employees in ‘mission, vision and values’. Having said that, the main fault in this case lies with Sachin, who was the ‘first point contact’ for the rest of the world for complaints. His duty does not end with merely passing on the complaint to Saurab. It was his duty to follow up and ensure that the job was done -properly and in time. sachin has acted like a mere ‘messenger’ and that too as a ‘half messenger’ since he did not even communicate back to ashish the anticipated delay.Attending to complaints – properly and promptly – is the best ‘branding excercise’ for a company of this type.

  • Shiv Kumar

    This example of communication gap is usual in most of the companies here in India. Many employees just pass the information to their juniors or colleagues but do not follow up with them and that’s where the problem lies. In this case, Sachin is culprit(in my opinion) because he should have passed the information to another engineer if saurabh was stuck in some other call. Since the customer directly spoke to sachin, it was his duty to follow up and complete the call religiously.

    Shiv Kumar

  • Abhishek Uniyal

    Hi !
    Well, in this case, majority thinks Sachin is the person to blame…..
    Overlooking a very basic fact……. Sachin was a sales executive and to the best of my knowledge Sales ppl are not directly responsible for maintenance or ‘after sales” service whichever you may want to call it……
    I Suggest, just keep this thing mind and see whether yr opinion changes or not :)


  • Yash

    Hey All
    This is a story that gets played in most companies today, especially when it comes to after sales. Glitzy showrooms sell you everything but after sales is the pits…..Anyways my point is that this not necessarily a communication problem, though it partly is. More importantly it is a SOP issue, where a Standard Operating Procedure is either not in place or is not adhered to, in both cases, communication is important but then so is the managements intent to offer service within a given time span.


  • Shyamsbhavsar

    We shuld have clear SLA signed with the Service provider. Should have proper escalation matrix with time frame. If engineer didinot attended the call within two hours Ashish should have reached to next higer ups for immediate attention.

    The end user has to play major role to escalte the problem appropriately as per urgency or severity of call

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi All…

    Thanks so much for your valuable views and comments… But before I go ahead Would like to clarify that it is not a fabricated story…IT is a real case which happened…
    Now, as most of you agreed it was Sachin’s fault as he kept the information with himself or was sleeping on it.

    Vinay thanks a lot, for sharing your views and this is exactly what happened in the company.

    Ego problem was the main cause between the two apart from Communication gap or miscommunication between the 3 of them.

    Another thing was that till this case happened, our sales department had no identification of top clients, immediately after this case, they maintained a system of classification of Clients, where A, B, C ratings were given to the clients.(only for our internal purpose)

    I tried very hard to convince my Boss then, that, it is Sachin’s fault entirely, but we end up reprimanding Saurabh for the entire thing..again as the Service head was not a strong leader in comparison t the Sales Head…and sales head left no stone unturned to save Sachin in this case.

    We had an Escalation process, but the failure was again in the communication process that the escalation process was not told to the clients. :(

    Saurabh was also at fault as after getting to know that one of his client needs his service and he cannot be at two place together, it was his duty to escalate the issue to his reporting Manager, who then would have organised another Service engineer for this client.

    The SOP clearly indicates, the process to follow for both Sales Executive and Service Engineer, but it was their own fault to take it up very lightly and not adhering to it.

    That is the reason I said that I will share the climax later once i received your opinions and views.

  • Najeebashraf

    An exemplary case study from which lessons could be learned. In my opinion, there are two main flaws. Firstly, the Sales Guy Sachin was definitely at fault. As the engineer had already informed him about his commitment, Sachin would have gone for any other alternative. fter knowing that the Saurabh is busy at client, he would have tried some other engineer to attend the query.One thing that amazes me is that What a Company that was where there is only one Engineer for support services ? The Sales Guy didn’t show any concern to the complaint of such client who is the biggest source of Company’s Revenue.
    Secondly, the company need to set some priority among its clients. The prolific client should be given to the smartest Sales Guy in the company. Such clients needs to be responded promptly.

  • Hks Delhi

    Hi Archana,
    Gone through your posting. What I feel is that is there is definately a lack of proper communication. In addition there is also accountability is lacking as the proper follow up was not done. All the three person involved were responsible. As if, any one of them showed that responsible behavior than the story would have been something else. So learn from it and better take care in future.

  • Daffyduck

    what i think is that the sachin is at fault why because once he knows that the suarabh was busy with another client he must have asked him how much time will it take to resolve the problem of the client whom he was working for,so that if he exactly knows the time he should have arranged another engineer to resolve the issue at the lab.

    problem is that if someone is not specific about time things cannot be solved when they are needed to solve.

    proper communication of time is vreally important.

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