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Is it me, or is customer service dead?

After waiting for over 30 minutes to speak to a Baby’s R Us online customer service representative --about the fact that they delivered a scooter instead of the diaper pail that we ordered--I was told that they couldn’t find the order number that they had previously e-mailed to me in the order confirmation. The woman insisted that the order number that I read off the confirmation (several times) did not exist.

I just completed a trip to Blimpie’s where the man making my sandwich took a break from doing so in order to answer his cell phone. Did he tell the person on the line that he was with a customer? No. He took the call. After a five minute conversation, he returned to my sandwich.

On my last three consecutive visits to Publix, they didn’t stock the soft drink that I usually purchase (Diet Coke - Lime). I finally spoke to the clerk at the customer service desk to ask if they still carried it. She thought I was frustrated that I was missing a sale and offered to write a rain check. I couldn’t get across to her that I didn’t know or care about a sale; I was just frustrated that they don’t have the product on the shelf. Did you stop carrying it? “No.” Then why isn’t it on the shelf? “We must be out of stock.” But why have you been out of stock for two weeks? “I don’t know. We should have it the next time.”

I’m sure that if I thought long and hard, I could find examples of great customer service. But it seems that a day doesn’t go by, especially during the holiday season, that somebody goes out of their way to convince me that customer service is dead.

Since misery loves company, I’d love to hear about other customer service nightmares. Or since it’s the holiday season, feel free to console me with stories about your more pleasant customer service experiences.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's been dying for years. (19+ / 0-)

    I have too many examples to list, but low wages and poor working conditions are part of the problem. You get good service at Costco, Walmart workers will barely speak to you.
    Even phone reps with college degrees work under pressure for lousy money (or answer from India).

    Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

    by emidesu on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:37:55 PM PST

    •  Great points. I missed the obvious because (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, pittie70, emidesu

      I didn't consider connecting this to the issues you mentioned. You're right though. If management treats their people poorly, it's likely to be reflected in how they treat the customer.

      With regard to my work, I go by what I was taught: "Do a good job for the sake of doing a good job. Then you work for yourself."

    •  I would suggest a slightly different metaphor: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Customer service is not 'dead'; rather, I would suggest that it is a lost art form - and like all such things, this is largely due to the development of techniques that better fulfill the chief goal.

      In this particular instance, that goal is simple: retaining customers.

      It used to be that a dissatisfied customer could take their patronage to a competing business (sometimes by the simple expedient of walking next door). Unfortunately, as businesses have grown and merged and swallowed their competitors, so it is that the ability of the average consumer to fight back and / or go elsewhere has been reduced.

      Don't like your phone plan? Sorry, you signed a multi-year contract - there's a cancellation fee if you break it. Want to keep your phone but switch to another service? Good luck - the two are tied together at the software (or god forbid, the hardware) level. By the way, did we mention the new overage charges?

      (And let us not even mention the sort of anti-consumerist maneuvers that thrive in the American market space and would be rendered wholly illegal in Europe; forced arbitration of insurance disputes, for instance.)

      Simply put, larger businesses don't need to provide customer service - they've already got their customers locked in, and any failure in the level of service (let alone the level of customer service) will not serve to change this.

      That the lower customer service requirements allow such businesses to employ greater numbers of low-paid, inexperienced, unskilled workers is a convenient boon.

  •  Probably could have looked at what you did (0+ / 0-)

    today and how you interacted with your customers.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:38:18 PM PST

  •  well ... (14+ / 0-)

    from my perspective, as a by-now-chronically underemployed individual in customer service, i could fill a tome with tales of smug, self-righteous, overly self entitled a-holes who start the interaction from the get-go in a wholly impolite, condescending manner.

    and i just have to chew the inside of my cheek until it's bloody, because giving the reply that was actually earned would mean bye-bye to my sad pittance of a paycheck.

    some of us in service do, believe it our not, take our thankless jobs seriously and conduct them professionally.

    "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

    by homo neurotic on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:46:21 PM PST

    •  ps (6+ / 0-)

      not saying that you yourself did anything untoward. at all. i'm sure you were polite, and i'm sure this was VERY frustrating.

      i agree that customer service is a dying art.

      particularly for any manner of online retailer, having worked for one of those too, i can assure you that this time of year is bug-f*ck nutty ball of the chain crazy.

      not to excuse or dismiss your frustration -- but when sales / call volume suddenly, come late november, ratchet up by an order of magnitude (that is not hyperbole), things can go awry.

      "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

      by homo neurotic on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:50:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I feel bad for people in your position, (6+ / 0-)

      I really do. I don't think companies give employees the tools they need to be able to solve the problems that people bring to them. I just posted a problem I had today, and that is exactly how I presented it. It is not like the people I spoke didn't want to help me, they couldn't and then couldn't even direct me to someone they could.

      I worked in retail for 20 years, so I know what it is like to have people be complete jerks, while you have to smile and take it. Grrr!

      Don't look at me in that tone of voice. Dorothy Parker

      by kirbybruno on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:53:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I always preface any complaint with saying; (6+ / 0-)

        "I know it's not your fault". But once upon a long time ago I was a cashier, so I've been on that side too.

        Recently, I had some truly wonderful above and beyond customer service. I had ordered some shoes from Zappos and UPS screwed up my delivery. I called the "sender" (Zappos) and told them the problem (shoes not received, weird notice on my door). The super-sweet person on the other end put me on hold for a few minutes while contacting UPS, got it straightened out (my shoes were on the next delivery – now I have winter shoes!) and then emailed me a coupon for $20 off my next order for my inconvenience. It wasn't Zappos' fault! But they sent me the coupon anyway.

        That is good customer service!

        curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

        by asterkitty on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:27:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I hear you, and I empathize. However, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, greengemini

      every customer with a complaint is not a smug, self-righteous, overly self entitled a-holes. I hope you're not suggesting that that there are no reasonable complaints and/or that there are no reasonable persons making complaints.

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

        please see my follow up, above, added in immediate reply to my own comment for clarification on that very matter.

        "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

        by homo neurotic on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:56:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Got it. Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          homo neurotic

          I really do empathize. I do know that many who deal with the public are in no win positions. They're handcuffed by bad management, bad policies, and lack of authority to do what is necessary to fix the problem.

          Again, all of these issues ultimately fall on management.

          •  yes yes yes (0+ / 0-)
            Again, all of these issues ultimately fall on management.
            absolutely !!

            it borders on cruel to put people on the frontline / in the trenches as gatekeepers of customer communications, while NOT providing them with all the tools needed to adequately solve the problems that come at them.

            "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

            by homo neurotic on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:37:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm more concerned (9+ / 0-)

    that the Blimpie person handled your food and his grubby phone.  Germy!  

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:49:22 PM PST

  • is a total scam (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle, greengemini

    I ordered a pair of speakers fro mtehm that were satisfacotry except they took a long time to get here from China. Then I ordered something more expensiveA: a tablet PC

    When it got here, it would not boot. It went thru about 40 seconds of boot-like activity, then shut iself off (including the power indicator).

    Their responses: "It was inspected carefully before it left the facootory." Maybe, but when it got here, it was a useless lump of iron.

    Download and run the following software..." When I pointed out that I could not do that on an inert lump of iron any more than I could do it on a potato, they said "Please try again."

    No one can possibly be that stupid. they are giving me the run-around in order to rip me off.

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:49:27 PM PST

  •  It is definitely dying. (5+ / 0-)

    I just attempted to contact Sears this morning through both Facebook and Twitter hoping to get someone to fix  problem I have with an order. I got a quick response on both networks to email them my info so they could help, which I did right away, but ever since crickets. Not even an email that said thanks we got your email and will get back to you asap.

    The problem is an order I placed online on December 3rd. 3 items shipped and I have already received them,  but 2 have no shipping info since that day. I received an email on Dec 4th that said they were ready for store pickup, went to the store, no items. I talked to someone on the phone last week, they said wait 24-48 hours. I called this morning, they said to wait 24-48 hours. I said that is unacceptable, they said too bad. After that I did live chat online, and that person said to wait 7 days for them to "investigate" the problem. All I want is to be able to get my stuff delivered, to be able to go get it, or my money back. So simple, yet they can't even do that.  

    This is a very timely post for me!

    Don't look at me in that tone of voice. Dorothy Parker

    by kirbybruno on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:50:08 PM PST

    •  Noted. I recall a problem with a Sears rebate on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      an appliance I purchased. You know the one. You send all the documentation that they require to get your $50 bucks, and then 8 to 10 weeks later you have to remember to pester them for the money that they owe you.

      •  A good experience. (0+ / 0-)

        I bought a set of Cooper Tires that had a $50 rebate. Filled in the paperwork, mailed it, and in less than 30 days I received the rebate. On the other hand, I'm still waiting (2 years +) on a $100 rebate from HughesNet.

        A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

        by edg on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:39:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ummm... You bought online to save money, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revm3up, paulitics, ZenTrainer

    and one of the places that you saved it was by not paying for customer service. That's one of the ways that online retailers are able to be profitable while selling at lower costs- they cheap out on that stuff.

    The person at Blimpie's was probably making minimum wage- Obviosly, his/her employer doesn't want this to happen, but his/her employer is getting what they paid for.

    I have no idea what was up with the Diet Coke, but at least two of the three examples seem to come from somebody wanting something they didn't want to pay for.

  •  Publix runs out of stuff all the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, asterkitty, Oh Mary Oh

    time, including things that are their own store brands. The individual stores don't have that much control over what comes in apparently. It's all done on the corporate level, I think.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 01:57:35 PM PST

    •  I've wondered about that. It seems that I rarely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      go in when they're not out of stock of something on my grocery list.

    •  I HATE that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      We have a couple of Bagel shops near our house.  One has closed in the last couple of months.  Both of them are ALWAYS out of onion bagels.  When confronting them with this, their response is two-fold: we bake what corporate tells us and if you want onion bagels, call the night before.  The night before?  I have to freaken' order bagels in advance?

      'Goodwill' between the GOP and the President is as abundant as unicorn farts - Me'

      by RichM on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:31:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most of my interaction with customer service (5+ / 0-)

    is via the phone. I always make it a point to listen to the person's name, and refer to them by name throughout the conversation. It's not only more pleasant, it creates accountability. My last job, which I did for only 9 months to get a little savings after retiring, was tech support for iPod. I didn't have an iPod, and knew nothing about them. The training was poor, and cut short due to immediate need. So we had a case of the blind leading the blind. It was frustrating for a month or so, but eventually it became much easier. Perhaps some of the people you have encountered (minus the sandwich maker) are just poorly trained, and are embarrassed to admit that they just don't know. It's hard to earn a living these days, especially for low-wage workers. Try to be patient. Getting angry doesn't help anyone.

  •  I have a service dog (8+ / 0-)

    so sometimes, we get treated really badly not just by the employees but by other customers. I've diaried about some of the really bad ones.

    But I've also diaried about the really good ones. Recently, some friends took me out to a restaurant and not only was I treated well, but they treated my service dog as if he were another member of the party, provided him a seat, a plate, a glass of water, and offered to prepare a special meal for him.

    I really, really loathe the customer service at all the local plumbing businesses - the plumbers themselves are awesome when they finally arrive, but it can take 4 or 5 calls and taking 2 - 3 days off work to finally get the plumber there. And the office staff always makes it seem as if it were my fault the plumber was a no-show. They only want to deal over the phone and being hearing impaired, few of them have any provisions for taking care of their hearing impaired customers (what, the hearing impaired don't get clogged sinks?).  This can be very frustrating.

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:10:42 PM PST

    •  A good plumber (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      is worth his/her weight in gold. If you ever find one that's reliable and who charges fairly, you want to reward them with repeat business. That's what I've done here and since I have some drain problems I'll be calling him again.

      The first time I called him for a quote he was hundreds less that the other guy who was simply lying to me and trying to rip me off.

      The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

      by Mr Robert on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:00:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know. Sadly, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Mr Robert, Oh Mary Oh

        even though the plumbers are good, their office staff sucks rotten eggs, and I can't afford to take 3 days off work to have a plumber spend half an hour unclogging a sink I can't unclog myself. Even if I call in advance and schedule the plumber's visit, I get backburnered over and over for days.

        I pay in cash in full and I tip.  I make sure the house is clean, the dogs locked up, the crawl space under the house open and accessible, that there are lights and power available if they need it, providing extra extension cords (they never have long enough ones).  What I provide is not good enough to provide timely service.  My time is valuable, too, and I shouldn't have to expend all my vacation time waiting for a half hour's work to be done.

        If I could ever find a plumber that liked getting paid in cash in full and with a nice tip, that was prompt and did their work without trashing my house, I would cleave unto him/her like epoxy.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:43:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dell is amazing (5+ / 0-)

    They've given me hours of time to diagnosis problems. They sent out a technician to install a replacement graphics board when I couldn't figure it out. I always get a technician when I call.

    BTW, you can easily take the scooter case to small claims. The local store will have to pay.

    •  Good to know about Dell. I'm actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, Oh Mary Oh

      looking at getting a new laptop.

      I eventually resolved the scooter/diaper pail problem, but it took several phone calls to get there.

      •  I recommend that you steer clear of HP (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, IADave, greengemini

        They have started routing inbound calls to a group called
        "SmartFriend Services" instead of the free tech. support. And, if you give them a credit card you will be charged in spite of the fact that the rep. may lead you to believe that you won't if the problem is HP's fault.

        They charged me around $80 to tell me that my LCD monitor needed to be replaced under their warranty. Well, I went ballistic and kept calling them back over several days and they finally issued a refund.

        Too bad because at one time HP had very good technical support.

        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

        by Mr Robert on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:09:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  HP has been awful since the double whammy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IADave, Mr Robert

          of Carly Fiorina and then/now Meg Whitman - both of whom were far too intent on feeding their greedy little egos to mind the business they were supposed to be running.

          At this time and for the foreseeable future, I wouldn't consider buying an HP anything. (Least of all a printer or a scanner, both of which Epson and Canon do far better with.)

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 06:19:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  YES (0+ / 0-)

    (R's) take those tired memes and shove 'em, Denise Velez Oliver, 11/7/2012.

    by a2nite on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 02:47:43 PM PST

  •  Customer Service needs resurrection (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    Things just seemed to work better and more efficiently until the efficiency experts took all the money and built customer-service farms in Bangalore.

    The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:00:00 PM PST

  •  A Happy Story (14+ / 0-)

    First a little background and excuse the necessary vagueness. A young family member who has mental health issues found solace and comfort in music. He saved up from his dish-washing job to buy noise cancelling headphones from BOSE. These cost about $300. He took great care of them for about 18 months which required exceptional efforts due to his health issues. So fast forward to recent events.

    Our young family member was walking to the train station and had his headphones on to help reduce anxiety of being in public. Suddenly, he has a seizure and falls, cracking his head on the station platform. The paramedics are called and long story short, spends some time in the hospital to get through his medication related incident. He recovers well fortunately, but his out of warranty headphones do not. They have broken his fall like a helmet and cracked in the process on the left side. His beloved BOSE headphones no longer play through the left ear cup and feedback randomly. Financially, he can't afford a new pair and repairs may cost quite a lot.

    His mother calls BOSE customer service and explains only the symptoms to the BOSE CS Rep hoping that the repair won't be that much because it will be an expense she will need to cover if her son is to ever have these wonderful headphones working again. She never mentions the incident that caused the damage because, being honest, she knows that the warranty has expired and it was a violent medical event that has ruined the headphones and BOSE is not responsible for that. The BOSE CS Rep takes some initiative and asks how this damage has happened, listens to the story, extends the warranty period to include the date of the medical incident, and immediately ships out BRAND NEW HEADPHONES as a replacement. A grateful mother has tears in her eyes and her heart is full to bursting as she silently blesses the BOSE CS Rep forever. Once again, because of a BOSE CS Representative, her son has some peaceful and tranquil moments despite frequent episodes of anxiety and anguish from his illness. As a family, we can only repay BOSE with unflagging loyalty from this point forward.

    Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. --Robert Collier

    by revm3up on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:12:53 PM PST

  •  I had a problem with my TV/internet provider and (6+ / 0-)

    every customer service person I spoke with on the phone was either indifferent or rude.  Then I went online to see if they had a Facebook page.  They did and I outlined my on-going billing problems.  To my amazement within 30 minutes I had an e-mail response.  I completed the attached complaint form and e-mailed it back.  Early (about 6 am) I received an e-mail from them addressing my issue and after nearly two months of frustration my problem was resolved in less than 5 days.  Not all company Facebook pages are monitored but it can be a good way to get attention paid to a customer service issue.

    "By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell -- and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed." Adolf Hitler

    by pittie70 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:19:34 PM PST

  •  DAZ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjo30080, Mr Robert

    I have had real good luck with the customer service from the people I get my art programs from DAZ. Anytime I've had a problem they have worked hard with me to solve it.

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:33:03 PM PST

  •  Customer service for the banksters and telcos? (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, they (redacted for the work computer) .......

    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

    by ozsea1 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 03:38:44 PM PST

  •  Positive Experience (6+ / 0-)

    I must add a very positive experience to this thread. Last year I had an exceptional experience with I had decided to try out their "Amazon Prime" service for 30 days. I never used it and promptly forgot about it, until the annual charge showed up on my Debit card. I'd had some fairly large unanticipated expenses that month, and I really, really didn't want to pay for the service I had not used and didn't need.

    I called customer service right away with my hackles pre-raised, having rehearsed all of the arguments and pleas I would have to make, knowing that I would probably be unsuccessful. I could not have been more wrong. Customer Service answered the phone quickly--no hold time!--and the woman I spoke with was very, very friendly and courteous. She pulled up my account, glanced over it, and told me to look for a refund within the week. It arrived in two days.

    And is probably natural, I now go to Amazon first if I need something they can provide. (I honestly have trouble keeping up with which companies I should not patronize, and sometimes worry that there is some reason I should not be shopping with them, but for now, I'm a loyal customer.)

    Thanks to denial, I'm immortal. -- Philip J. Fry

    by IamGumby on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:08:26 PM PST

  •  That's why I try to shop at small local stores (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjo30080, Oh Mary Oh, greengemini

    where people get to know me. That ensures good customer service.

    I do think we get what we pay for. Shopping at non union chains where employees are poorly paid sort of sets us up for poor customer service.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:35:35 PM PST

  •  "Press 1 if yes. Press 2 if no. Press 3 if.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, cjo30080, revm3up, Oh Mary Oh

    undecided.  Press 4 if you cannot understand the question.  Press 5 if you want a repeat of this menu....

    You have not pressed any key....

    Press 1 if yes................"

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 04:48:06 PM PST

  •  Some of my best customer service experiences (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjo30080, Oh Mary Oh, greengemini

    With the city. Yes, government can work. Those overpaid (not) bureaucrats can be helpful, cheerful, responsive.  I've only had one bad experience, and it was from a newbie who didn't have the answer and made up one that was patently idiotic. My complaint to the information department about that yielded prompt apologies, promise of corrective re-training, and the info I needed.

    One time I called about a problem with timing on a signal light (two cars would get through the intersection before it turned red, while 6 more cars piled up behind on each cycle).  They called me back to tell me it had been adjusted.  Then a week later they called me back again to tell me there was some problem with the equipment so it still wasn't quite right, and told me when it would be fixed.  

    I could write a whole book about a major zoning issue pitting a coalition of non-profits and gay bars; against neighborhood associations who wanted nothing in a five mile radius that was in any way "not like us". Talk about a tight rope walk for city staff. They did a superb job, over many months, of informing, guiding and mediating both sides to a reasonable outcome.

    There have been several other instances. I have finally concluded that many LTE's bitching about City Hall are reflexive "bad government, booo" comments from people who have never actually interacted with them.

    " can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 05:06:48 PM PST

    •  The key with government (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cjo30080, Oh Mary Oh, Catte Nappe

      is understanding what motivates the person or possibly department you are dealing with.

      If their real job is to help the public, they often do a really excellent job.

      If their real job is, say, dispatching tow trucks to accidents, they'll treat your contact as an intrusion unless your interaction is related to that task.

      It isn't always easy to know the real mission of a department.  But in the end, they get funding to provide a specific service.   In general, if what you need matches that service, their reason for existence, you tend to get high quality help.

      It's kind of different from dealing with businesses, whose primary goal (if the person you are interacting with is not an  underpaid resentful wage-slave) is usually either to make a sale or to keep you as a customer, depending on who you are dealing with.

  •  Customer service is alive for companies (5+ / 0-)

    that value their customers long-term relationship.

    Just as an example, my manufacturing company does everything it can to make the experience of returning product and getting a replacement as painless as possible.   We also provide our customers many ways of doing business with us (some of which put all the risk on us, and we'd make more money not offering).

    Another local health food store pays its employees a living wage and provides health insurance.  The working environment is also ergonomic (climate controlled, cashiers can sit or stand as they prefer, have access to water etc).  Strangely enough their checkout people are incredibly fast and the people stocking the store know where everything is if asked (and will actually offer to help a bewildered looking customer).   Long service employees = skilled employees, and skilled employees = better customer experience.

    Another example, Nordstroms.  Look it up.  This is a department store whose entire business model is making the experience of shopping there pleasant and efficient for customers.

    You don't get good customer service by having underpaid, part-time, unhealthy employees.  You also don't get it by offering the lowest possible price.   Customer service costs a little more.   (not as much as people think.  But enough that it's been squeezed out by the Wal-Mart type business models)

    For the most obvious everyday example of the difference, compare the customer service at a Taco Bell with that at Dennys, and compare both to that of a real sit-down restaurant that serves fresh, good food.

    The price goes up at each level, and the service you get also goes up, because the service is part of what you are paying for.   That sit-down restaurant is also much more likely to properly handle dietary restrictions, or cope with things ordered that are different from what is offered on the menu.

  •  I was left on hold by Time-Warner for 90 minutes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjo30080, revm3up, greengemini

    when my internet was down the other day.  Customer service dying?  It's a freakin' cadaver.

  •  A long, long time ago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjo30080, Oh Mary Oh

    I was treated great by the cashiers and stock clerks at Albertson's. They were friendly, went out of their way to help, and spoke to me like I was an actual person, rather than like they were reciting a corporate approved script. Then, they bought Lucky's.

    Actually, I think Lucky's bought Albertson's for the name and reputation, but had to structure the deal as Albertson buying Lucky, or the keep the name thing wouldn't have worked out.

    Overnight, the customer service at Albertson's locations dropped off a cliff. Clerks that were friendly now recited scripts and had a paranoid look around their eyes, as if afraid they were being watched. A few of the friendliest people were not working there after a week or two. No one would say if they were fired or quit, just, "so and so no longer works here" with a phony smile.

    Even though the old Lucky's locations erected new Albertson signs, the service inside those stores did not improve to Albertson's standards, rather, the Albertson's location standards declined to Lucky's. Too bad. Albertson used to be one of the nicer chain supermarkets to shop at.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 07:15:44 PM PST

  •  Little stickers on fruits and vegetables (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are a symptom. I can't just buy an apple any more, because the clerks aren't paid enough or well trained enough to recognize an apple. So, instead, they offer fruit labeled with a little "apple" sticker on it.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 07:20:09 PM PST

  •  As most of us here know, there are plenty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of statistics showing how American productivity is at an all time high, but wages have fallen far behind.  In addition to the outright wage slavery, exploitation, and complete loss of free time, I believe that somewhere along the way, we have also lost the joy in work.

    There was actually a time when customer service jobs were snapped up by those known as "people persons".  Now the push is to move calls and people along in order to churn out a pile of efficiency statistics that do not reflect the essence of customer service.  

    Gawd forbid that a customer service problem could create a sense of empathy between two humans trying to find a fair and just outcome to a situation.  

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 05:05:24 AM PST

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