Friday, December 19, 2008

Points to Ponder - Vanilla Ice Cream vs GM Story

Vanilla Ice Cream that puzzled General Motors!!

Never underestimate your client's complaint, no matter how funny it might seem!

* Got this from an email sent by a friend. Would love to share with all YiP! visitors.

This is a real story that happened between a customer of General Motors and its Customer Care Executive.

A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:
"This is the second time I have written to you, and I don't blame you for not answering me, because I sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night, but the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we have eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It's also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem….

You see, every time I buy a vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won't start. If I get any other kind of ice cream my car starts just fine. I want you to know I am serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds. "What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?" The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway.

The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well-educated man in a fine neighbourhood. He had managed to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and, sure enough after they came back to the car, it wouldn't start. The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, they got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night, he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man's car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And towards this end he began to take notes. He jotted down all sorts of data: time of day, types of gas uses, time to drive back and forth, etc.

In a short time he had a clue. The man took less time to buy vanilla ice cream than any other flavour. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavour, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavours were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to check out the flavour.

Now, the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn't start when it took less time. EUREKA ! Time was now the problem – not the vanilla ice cream!!! The engineer quickly came up with the answer: "vapour lock".

It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavours allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapour lock to dissipate.

Lessons Learned:
Even crazy looking problems are sometimes real and all problems seem to be simple only when we find the solution, with cool thinking.

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