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Tuesday 09 September 2003

Customer Service Still In The Toilet

I am not the only person who feels like he’s being taken for a sucker by nearly everyone he does business with, according to this Washington Post article.

Dianne Gagnon has a piece of advice for corporate America. “Listen to what the customer is saying, rather than assume the customer is out to cheat them. Hire competent employees, commit to truth in advertising, never pass the buck.”

It’s interesting that nowhere in the article is any actual company named; it’s all about a ‘top-brand laptop computer’ and a ‘local [car] dealership’ and an ‘upscale furniture company’. The worst customer service tends to come from the largest places, the companies that depend on volume, instead of repeat business, for their survival. These companies also tend to be large advertisers, which is probably why the abysmal state of customer service generally goes unreported.

Posted by tino at 19:05 9.09.03
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I think the more telling quote as to why customer service is so bad is this one:

‘Quite frankly, the people who are customer-raging, we probably don’t want as customers anyway.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at September 9, 2003 08:11 PM

As a complete aside, can someone go out there and train cashiers on how to return change? Here’s a hint: if you put the coins on top of the bills and hand the whole thing to me as if the bills were a platter, I am going to drop the coins, and be a very unhappy customer. This is especially an issue at places like a drive-thru, where the height of the drive-thru window compared to my car makes it difficult for me to see those coins. If, however, you hand me the bills, then hand me the coins once I’ve dealt with the bills, I’m going to get all of my change back.

It may seem like a little thing, but if the difference between a happy customer and an upset customer (who lost maybe seventy-five cents) is in how their money is returned, then maybe fast-food joints need to focus on this.

Posted by: Twonk at September 18, 2003 11:58 AM

I am doing something I have never done before.

I am using my real name instead of hiding behind a screen name to voice my views on the internet.

I am completely disgusted by the constant complaints about the “lack of customer service”. For people who think that customer service is on the decline, I would counter with the claim the customers having common sense let alone, common courtesy is virtually non-existent.

I have worked at one form of customer service or another for my entire career. I did the obligatory stint at a fast food joint during high school. I have worked as a front desk hotel clerk. I have worked as a receptionist. My most recent endeavors involve call center work.

I must admit, that my sanity and stress levels have never been so tested as talking to people on the phone. Actually trying to get them to stop screaming at me over the phone so I can explain to them the common sense information they need.

I will give you three examples.

A customer calls in screaming that their long distance bill is getting higher every month. They have the same amount of calls every month. Why the *&&^%$# is their bill so high.

Well ma’am. Although the billed amount says, ($288.00) and you will please note that the balance is enclosed in parenthesis. Also note the phrase in large bold type directly beneath the balance that says “please do not remit this is a credit balance”. It seems that a few months ago you had a credit balance of $18. You sent in that $18 dollars as the balance due, which turned into $36, which turned into $72 and so on.

Yes ma’am, I understand you were upset. No, it’s all right, just a part of the job. Thank you for calling.

Next call:

*Crying baby, TV, and wife saying clearly in the background, “I’m not talking to those people. They don’t listen to women.”

Thank you for calling sir, how may I help you? No sir, I don’t have your phone number in front of me, may I have your name and address…. yes, sir, I’m sorry for the inconvenience but we must verify the information for each customer who calls in….No sir, I’m not trying to be disrespectful. Yes, please tell your wife that we are not charging for calls you did not make. The calls were made using her personal calling card that has her pin that spells her name W-A-N-D-A to a number that directory assistance confirms has the same last name as yours…Your sister, sir? Yes sir, thank you, that clears things up for you? Thank you for calling.

Thank you for calling…please sir, I understand you may be upset, I will try to….sir, cursing at me is not necessary…May I please have your phone number…sir I’m sorry you had to wait on hold, we are experiencing a heavy volume of calls…sir, if you continue to talk to me in that manner, I will have to disconnect this call.

Thank you for calming down sir, how may I help you? The amount of the bill is $50.00 not $90. No, sir, we did receive your payment of $45.00 however it did not post to your account until 2 weeks after the due date and after the next invoice was already made. That?s why your payment doesn?t show on the bill and that is why you received the past due letter. I’m sorry the letter upset you sir. Is there anything else I can help you with sir? Thank you for calling.

What are the common sense lessons to be learned from these few calls?

Please actually read the information on your bill. You may save yourself some hold time.

Every company is not out to cheat you and nothing in this life is free. You have to pay to play. If you don?t want the past due letter, pay on time.

NEVER start off a conversation by being hostile or worse yet, screaming insults. Calling me a ngger, or a btch, or telling me to shut my f*cking mouth is NOT the way to solve a problem. You are not talking to a robot on the other end; you are talking to human being with feelings. How would you like it if someone talked to your mother or daughter or grandmother that way?

I would really like to confront some of these people on Oprah and ask them a few questions like:

How could you treat another human being with such disrespect?

When you got off the phone with me, did you feel better about yourself?

Do you feel I deserve the same treatment, now, meeting me face to face?

I?d also give them the same advice I?m going to give you: Treat each customer service representative you come across with kindness and respect. You may be surprised at the true customer care you will receive in return. Not to mention, the dollar you save may be your own.

Posted by: Deborah Nesbit at March 9, 2004 09:45 PM