Customer Service

Why does it seem so hard for some companies to provide good – even excellent customer service?    Is it really that difficult to take care of the customer?  Does it always have to be simply about money?

I called my cell company today to “discuss” some overage charges.  Stopping just short of saying “if you paid more attention to your account this wouldn’t happen”  they graciously  offered a “one time” discount on the over charge.  When I explained that wasn’t good enough, the supervisor offered me the option of upping my plan and then they would provide a 25% discount.  How lovely!   They get more, I still get stuck with most of my overage charges.    Would it be that hard to simply say: “I’m apologize for the problem Mr. MacDonald. We know that sometimes a month gets away from us and we lose track of how many minutes we actually are using. Since this does not appear to be a regular occurrence, we’d be happy to take care of those charges.”    Problem solved.   But did that happen, not on your life!

There’s another one.  I ordered a product for my car.  It was not of the quality or fitment that I expected so I sent an email explaining my disappointment and that I would like to return it.  Their reply – A “sales professional” simply replied to my email with the company’s mailing address.     Would it have been that difficult to write:  “We apologize that the product was not what you expected. Please feel free to return the product and we’ll credit your account.”     But did that happen?  Not on your life!  I just received an address which seems to imply I can return the product.

Yet another… I called today to order a keyless remote for my car. Mind you, they are extremely hard to get and rather expensive considering it’s a thirteen year old car.   Nevertheless, after contacting one company that was out of stock, I called another company and apparently I was interrupting this poor girls day.  She was quick to interrupt and seemed less than happy about taking my order.  It’s the pits when you don’t have options.   How hard would it have been to slow down a bit, listen to my questions and then proceed with my order?

When I was dong Call Center training, we encouraged our associates to try to match the pace of the caller. If they were in a hurry, then chit-chat was out and it was on to doing business. If the caller was amiable to conversation then we engaged in conversation while still taking care of business.  It’s a fairly simple concept.   Even in the work I do now, you can tell when customer’s are ready to get on with it and when they are open to talking about the weather.

I know good service when I receive it. Consequently, I simply hope to have a problem solved when there is one and  be treated like my business is important – and I’m important to their business.

Recently, when I took my car in for some service, the charges for a particular item were way more than I thought was reasonable. I called and talked to the Service Advisor and his reply was fairly simple.  “I sorry you thought the charges were excessive. I talked with the mechanic and those are regular charges for that particular service. Nevertheless, since you’re not happy, we want to make sure you are taken care of. I can’t reduce those charges but what I can do is offer a free oil change for either of your vehicles at any time – would that be okay?”      From my perspective, absolutely! That basically reduced my original charge by over 50%.  I didn’t have to whine, or bitch, or threaten to take it up the ladder, I simply let my dissatisfaction be known and the problem was taken care of.

Customer Service is really not that hard. You simply strive to exceed the customer’s expectations.  Companies talk about their great customer service and friendly people. They spend millions advertising it. But – when we have a problem – all too often what we receive compared to what they advertise is very different.

Customer Service – it’s not rocket science. It’s good business.

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