A common complaint voiced by customers dealing with a company’s support team is that they don’t feel that anyone has fully taken ownership of their issue. In our work with clients as well as my experiences in dealing with companies as a customer, there is a common consequence of where there is no ownership, often there is no resolution.

Recently, I dealt with an issue that could have been resolved more efficiently had the right person taken ownership immediately. I live in an apartment that I rent, and I had been finding small puddles of water periodically in the middle of my kitchen. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where this water was coming from, so I reported it to my building manager.

My building manager directed me to contact my landlord’s agent, who deferred right back to my building manager to find the leak and fix it.

My building manager sent a plumber into my apartment to check it out. With a little bit of investigation, he was able to conclude that the water was coming down from the back of my fridge. I then reached out to my landlord’s agent to let him know I needed a fix or a new fridge ASAP and he got to work on getting it done. But when the bill from the plumber showed up on his desk, he began to fight it with my building manager. He felt that it was not her place to send in her plumber as he could have sent someone at a preferred rate to check it out. But, he hadn’t taken ownership to do that himself when he was given the opportunity. Additionally, I didn’t find out I was getting a new fridge until I got a call from the appliance company trying to schedule a delivery time.

When the fridge showed up, the company did a great job of getting it set up and removing my old unit and I signed off on it as what I had ‘ordered’ and that there was no damage. Who knows if this is the fridge my landlord actually wanted – it’s smaller than my old one and doesn’t match any of the appliances.

After getting bounced back and forth between my building manager, the agent, and the appliance company, I was frustrated with the lack of ownership in this issue and how I was left trying to decipher the next steps between different parties when it should have been a simple fix: Investigate the issue. Order a new fridge. Send the details to me, the tenant. In this case, the agent ordered the new fridge and left everything else to third parties to organize.

Whether you’re acting as an actual agent to an individual or working in a customer support role for a company, the heart of your responsibility is to take on the ownership of your client’s problems and facilitate a solution. The first step to successful resolution is problem ownership.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

–Kaila Joynes, Consultant