Customer Service-Does It Exist Anymore??

MJS

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I often have to wonder if quality customer service exists anymore. It seems to me, that people don't seem to care about the customer, if they have a pleasant experience, or about their job in general. Now, while some things may not seem like they're that big of a deal, IMHO, I believe that if you're paying for a service, it should be done properly. As an example. I pay for the newspaper to be delivered to my house everyday. My old carrier, a very nice lady, moved out of state with her family. She was very friendly and I'd often stop and chat with her for a few minutes in the morning while I was walking my dog. The paper was there everyday, on time. :) I wish I could say the same about the carrier that I have now. I pretty much have this lady figured out, as to when I'm getting a paper and when I'm not. Its almost a given that once every 2 weeks, I don't get a paper. Today was that 2 week mark and low and behold...no paper!!

Calls to the customer service center are just as enjoyable as having a tooth pulled. Now, you'd figure that after telling the rep this and how it happens all the time, they'd say something I could believe. I get a paper delivered by someone else, and they claim that they'll address the issue with the manager. Now, my question, and the one I asked the manager today was: If this is the same carrier everyday, and other days I get one, how could she not deliever one every 2 weeks? Also, if the CSR is telling me she'll address it with a mgr. why does this problem continue? Either its never being addressed, or the mgr. isn't doing their job. This is why I now ask to speak to a mgr.

Petty? Sure, after all its just a paper right? But the fact remains, that this person has a job, and apparently can't do it right. Why should I pay for something I'm not getting? Hell, the daily paper is only .50, but add that up over time.

This of course is not limited to just a newspaper, as it seems to happen in other areas as well.

Anyone else have any customer service rants they'd like to share? :)
 

Drac

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I have more examples than I can type...It's funny that those that are such creeps that work customer service are usually the worst to deal with when they are off the job...
 

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I am a "Customer Service Professional". I have certificates and a little gold medal to say so.

I say so.

How do I know? Because people come to me to sort things out, they ask me to fix things, ask me to find out how to do things, they ask me to help them and I say "yes certainly" or "I don't know but I'll find out" or "I'll do my best". I have a reputation for being good, it's not because I know things, it's because I'll do my damndest to make sure that the person I have an interaction is happy at the end of it. I can't always solve their problem, but as long as they are smiling and happy with the result of our interaction and have someone else to speak to about the problem, I feel good about it.

It makes me sad that so many people either just don't care or are too busy and tied up with other things to want to help the customer. I often find that if I have to ring a "helpdesk" or "customer service line" (I prefer to call them "call centers" because they aren't helpful or offer customer service) then I often have to have a match of wills in order to get what I want. On one occasion I was so annoyed with the responses of an operator I enventually found a manager to speak to (By going through the main company switchboard and asking around for the name of the person and how to best get through - not through the operator who blocked my every attempt) and spoke to them about the attitude of the operator. The person was quizzed, I was called back and the manager sorted the problem out, probably to get rid of me but it shouldn't have to be this way.

The main problem as I see it is that customer service staff aren't considered professionals in most industries, they are cheap and trained to a low standard, the departments have a high turnover and no one really realises that it takes skill and a certain type of personality to WANT to help someone. And that what it is... they have to WANT to help. Most of the low paid call center staff don't.

Personally I'm driven by solving things for other people, I sit behind my desk and people ring me and email me with emergencies, things they need and requests to find people. I do it all with a happy grin, a desire to help and a DRIVE for the job. They ring ME because they know I'll get things done and they don't have to chase me.

I am a customer service professional.

Anyone in the North West UK recruiting and want to pay me a decent wage? I make fantastic coffee too.

On behalf of my industry MJS, I'm terribly sorry can I help in any way?
 

Lisa

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Shaderon hit the nail on the head with this statement, IMHO:

The main problem as I see it is that customer service staff aren't considered professionals in most industries, they are cheap and trained to a low standard, the departments have a high turnover and no one really realises that it takes skill and a certain type of personality to WANT to help someone. And that what it is... they have to WANT to help.

The turn over rate is incredible. Some places here in Winnipeg pay really well now, offer benefits and such just to try and keep people around. They go through intensive training programs to weed out those that do not want to really be there.

I work reception at my current job some of the time. It is my job to be pleasant on the phone and to those that walk in the door and to help them solve a variety of issues and problems. The thing is, I LOVE MY JOB. I like being nice to people and I like helping them so it isn't too hard for me to do. For some people, in a job they don't really want to be in with crappy pay, it is hard to reach out and do that extra little bit.
 
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MJS

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Just for clarification. I was not specifically talking about customer service over the phone, but face to face as well. As an example. There have been many times my wife and I have walked into a furniture store. I see a number of salespeople standing around. We make eye contact, but nobody comes over. Now, if I was in the sales business, and seeing thats how I would make a living, I'd be running right over to see if there was anything I could help them with. At the least, acknowledge the person, telling them that if they need any assistance, feel free to ask.

Now, I don't wear a suit and tie to work and unless its a special event, I don't get dressed up to go out. Oddly enough, when someone walks in wearing a suit and tie or a dress shirt and dockers, the salesman flocks to them. Hmmm...does the salesman know what I do for a living? What about my wife? Not likely. I'm not going to discuss my income on a forum, but I will say for two people in their 30's, we do very good for ourselves. :) So, the salesman is possibly going to lose a sale because I'm not dressing the part or wait until I approach them for assistance.

What makes me laugh is when it comes time to pay for the items we purchased. Last time we bought a new bedroom set, the look on the salesmans face was priceless when he realized I was paying in full. ;)
 

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The main problem as I see it is that customer service staff aren't considered professionals in most industries, they are cheap and trained to a low standard, the departments have a high turnover and no one really realises that it takes skill and a certain type of personality to WANT to help someone. And that what it is... they have to WANT to help. Most of the low paid call center staff don't.

Personally I'm driven by solving things for other people, I sit behind my desk and people ring me and email me with emergencies, things they need and requests to find people. I do it all with a happy grin, a desire to help and a DRIVE for the job. They ring ME because they know I'll get things done and they don't have to chase me.

The turn over rate is incredible. Some places here in Winnipeg pay really well now, offer benefits and such just to try and keep people around. They go through intensive training programs to weed out those that do not want to really be there.

I work reception at my current job some of the time. It is my job to be pleasant on the phone and to those that walk in the door and to help them solve a variety of issues and problems. The thing is, I LOVE MY JOB. I like being nice to people and I like helping them so it isn't too hard for me to do. For some people, in a job they don't really want to be in with crappy pay, it is hard to reach out and do that extra little bit.

I think these two posts get to the heart of the problem that MJS (and many other people) have observed. The Golden Rule says `Do unto unto others as you would have them do unto your', but the rule that seems to hold for most people is, `do unto others as others do unto you'. People who are treated well are much more likely to treat others, including the customers they deal with, the same wayand the flip side, as Lisa stresses, holds all too often as well.

But there's another side to it: customers often deal with the people who are serving them in a very rude, abrupt waymore as though they were dealing with robots than human beings. I think that what's happening here is that the `point person', the customer service rep, winds up taking heat because the company itself has crazy or obnoxious policies, and customers, unable to get their hands on `the company', take it out on the poor rep.

This happens over the phone a lot, I suspect. In cases where, say, your insurance company and your doctor's office disagree about some procedure involved in a payment, and you get these dunning letters from your physician's office, and spend a whole day or two calling back and forth between the two offices and trying to get them to talk to each other while each blames the other for the mixup... or after spending an hour playing phone tag with an automated answering system that acts as though it had been put together by someone who designs mazes for a living... people tend to be very close to hysterical anger, and the lash out at the first person they can who seems to be in the target area... even though there's often nothing the rep they're talking to can actually do about it.

In other cases, though, I think it's just a reflection of this built-in sense of entitlement that a lot of people seem to feel when they're interacting with someone whose job is to serve them in some capacity or other. You see it in shops and stores all the time.

Put the three things togetherbadly treated (and often minimally trained) service reps on the one hand, overbearing and/or irritated customers on the other hand, and indifferent management (who apparently have given up on the notion of customer loyalty) on the third hand, and you have... what Mike was talking about.
 

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Concerning shopping at a furniture store ... it becomes tricky, I think.

Many people like to 'browse' before shopping. And, if every salesperson comes over and says 'Can I have your money.' Some people get frustrated by 'pushy' salespersons. It is a precarious balance.

When I am out shopping, if I want service, the first person who makes eye contact, I walk right over and say "I need help." I find it works wonders.

This principle has been on the Saturn car dealer lots since their inception: "Look all you want, we aren't going to bother you until you ask."

Lastly, salespeople are not usually compensated on how you pay for the goods. So if you are paying with cash or credit or bananas, it really shouldn't matter to most salespeople (although sometimes there can be a spiff on opening new revolving credit accounts).
 

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Okay, since we are talking about cutsomer service I am going to go on a little rant.....

:soapbox:

I HATE, absolutely despise the following:

Please press 1 for....

Please press 2 for....

Please press 3 for....

and so on and so one and so on and you sit there listening to this electronic voice and they don't give you the option to talk to a human being!!!!! I don't wanna talk to a machine, I want a HUMAN!

furthermore.....

If my damn call is so damn important to you, WHY am I sitting on hold for 30 frickin' minutes!!!!!!!!!!!! Stop telling me how important I am to you and get on the damn line!!!!

/rant.

Damn...that felt good :D
 

Ping898

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IMHO I think that the low quality of customer service comes back to pride in your job or at least how well you do your job. I remember once being in best buy going to pick up some movies I ordered online and when I got there they had the wrong movie (I ordered the original, they got me the remake) pulled and couldn't find the one I ordered. They were going to refund my purchase and refused to give me the same deal at a later date because I ordered it online. So I asked to speak to the manager and stated my case to her and pointed out it took me less than two minutes to realize that the remake (the movie they pulled for me) had a different title even than the original. Her response was well I much just be smarter than all of them and I told her no, I wasn't, I am sure there are many of them who could put my skillset to shame, what it was, was pride in doing a god job, no matter what the job and obviously they didn't have that and walked out....
OTOH, the VW dealership I am now dealing with is FABULOUS, the service manager I deal with has gone out of his way to find a way to get the problems I have had with my car covered under warrenty and make sure I am taken care of. He has pride in his job and the work he does.
 

exile

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Okay, since we are talking about cutsomer service I am going to go on a little rant.....

:soapbox:

I HATE, absolutely despise the following:

Please press 1 for....

Please press 2 for....

Please press 3 for....

and so on and so one and so on and you sit there listening to this electronic voice and they don't give you the option to talk to a human being!!!!! I don't wanna talk to a machine, I want a HUMAN!

There are certain government offices where there is simply no way to talk to a human being. None. Your only choices are (i) various menus of prerecorded information for routine queries, or (ii) leave a message and we will get back to sometime this year, honest!. So if you're having some crisis involving a problem that that agency is implicated in somehow... well, you're outta luck!

I've been told that in such cases, there are certain sequences of numbers which actually will bring you to a human respondent; in at least one such case, someone at my university human resources department, who had to deal with the office in question a lot, told me the sequence and it worked. Normally, only those who Need To Know these codes are given them—people doing contract work for that office and so on. For the rest of the peasants, though... leave your message and we'll think about calling you back...sometime... maybe...
 

Shaderon

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people tend to be very close to hysterical anger, and the lash out at the first person they can who seems to be in the target area... even though there's often nothing the rep they're talking to can actually do about it
Oh crikey yes how many times have I had this..... fortunately for me I've always worked in places that have given me the freedom to offer SOMETHING as a sweetener, even if it's only a discount off the next order as an apology. But usually faced with this type of tirade, mostly what the customer wants is to be heard. They are feeling upset, ignored, wronged and insulted, they want someone to sympathise with them, listen to them and not just interrupt them and say there's nothing that can be done. Quite often, once they have let off steam and had their say, they are more able to listen to what can be done and given some options to choose from. Customers like to choose thier problem fix, it gives them a bit of power back.
 
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MJS

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Concerning shopping at a furniture store ... it becomes tricky, I think.

Many people like to 'browse' before shopping. And, if every salesperson comes over and says 'Can I have your money.' Some people get frustrated by 'pushy' salespersons. It is a precarious balance.

When I am out shopping, if I want service, the first person who makes eye contact, I walk right over and say "I need help." I find it works wonders.

This principle has been on the Saturn car dealer lots since their inception: "Look all you want, we aren't going to bother you until you ask."

I'm not fond of high pressure tactics either. However, I don't think its much to ask of someone to say hello. I've had folks come over, ask if I needed help, and I replied, "I'm just looking right now, thanks." IMO, I think a little can go a long way with some people, especially if you have 4 salesmen converged in the front of the store, standing there socializing with each other. I'm not saying don't talk to your co-workers, but make the customer feel welcome. :)

Lastly, salespeople are not usually compensated on how you pay for the goods. So if you are paying with cash or credit or bananas, it really shouldn't matter to most salespeople (although sometimes there can be a spiff on opening new revolving credit accounts).

True, its not going to matter if its cash, check or charge. What does matter though, is the fact that many salespeople work on commission. Sure, they probably make a base pay, but the more you sell the more money you make. :) When my wife and I went to look for a new SUV for her, a very nice salesman came out, we told him what we were interested in, and he took the time to write down some numbers. Keep in mind, this was all shortly before closing time. We left, did a bit more searching, and ended up going back to the Nissan dealership. I went in and asked for the same person that assisted me. The same thing with the furniture. A salesman did eventually come over. He showed us a few things, and we left, as we were out looking at a few different places. We made it back to that store, asked for the salesman by name. I think he was a bit surprised to see us back. Very nice, very helpful. We got a nice bedroom set, and he made a sale. :)
 

Kacey

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There are a lot of issues that affect customer service - and the willingness to pay for good customer service is high among them; people want prices to stay the same or drop, and yet expect to get high quality service from people whose income is low, training is minimal, and whose commitment is often commensurate with their income and training. The attempt to maintain, or improve, customer service, while reducing costs, led to those nasty and annoying computerized menus... which lead to complaints about them as well.

My primary complaint, and something that has led me to change companies more than once, is companies that move their customer service to other countries - my former ISP is an example; I had so much trouble convincing the service reps from India that:

a) there was nothing wrong with my phone line (after all, there hadn't been anything wrong with it the the previous 3 times I'd had the exact same problem);

b) that no, I didn't want someone to call me back in 4 hours to let me know when to be home for the person coming to check the line (that there was nothing wrong with) because it was already 10 pm where I was;

c) that although the reps' English was quite good, I had trouble with the accent (it was, as I said, 10 pm... and I get up at 5:30)

d) that when I say "I can't be home then, and please cancel the service call" I actually meant "I can't be home then, and please cancel the service call" - not, leave the call alone, so the phone service guy can call me at work while I'm teaching and complain to me that his whole day is screwed up because I didn't cancel the service call

This is, I think, the ultimate outgrowth of large companies - when you call customer service above the small store level, you are almost guaranteed never to get the same person twice - and even is you do, who remembers from one call to the next, since it's so unlikely? So there is no personal relationship. Anyone who has had a bad experience (and most, if not all of us, have) are prepared for the worst, and respond accordingly... likewise, many customer reps have had truly abominable things said to them, for the heinous sin of doing their jobs as they were told to, and for reacting to having vile things said to them because they represent the company that the caller has a problem with. The advent of "this call may be recorded" has solved some of that - but leaves us with a bigger privacy issue than the courtesy issue it sort of solved.

Sadly, I have no answer for this problem...
 

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A few years ago I walked into one of the local suit shops looking for a new suit. I was wearing jeans and a rock tee as I usually do when out. I got no service. Place was dead, the sales drones just kept stocking. 2 days later I stopped back in, in a shirt and tie (had just come from an interview). I needed a stick to beat them away. I finally asked for the manager, got him and asked why today I had everyone pushing so hard. He said because they give "stellar" service to all their customers. Had no answer when I informed him that I'd been there 2 days prior and been completely ignored by many of these same salesmen.

You're prejudged in these cases. In theirs, it cost them a $300 suit sale. I went to JC Pennys.

Just for clarification. I was not specifically talking about customer service over the phone, but face to face as well. As an example. There have been many times my wife and I have walked into a furniture store. I see a number of salespeople standing around. We make eye contact, but nobody comes over. Now, if I was in the sales business, and seeing thats how I would make a living, I'd be running right over to see if there was anything I could help them with. At the least, acknowledge the person, telling them that if they need any assistance, feel free to ask.

Now, I don't wear a suit and tie to work and unless its a special event, I don't get dressed up to go out. Oddly enough, when someone walks in wearing a suit and tie or a dress shirt and dockers, the salesman flocks to them. Hmmm...does the salesman know what I do for a living? What about my wife? Not likely. I'm not going to discuss my income on a forum, but I will say for two people in their 30's, we do very good for ourselves. :) So, the salesman is possibly going to lose a sale because I'm not dressing the part or wait until I approach them for assistance.

What makes me laugh is when it comes time to pay for the items we purchased. Last time we bought a new bedroom set, the look on the salesmans face was priceless when he realized I was paying in full. ;)
 
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MJS

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A few years ago I walked into one of the local suit shops looking for a new suit. I was wearing jeans and a rock tee as I usually do when out. I got no service. Place was dead, the sales drones just kept stocking. 2 days later I stopped back in, in a shirt and tie (had just come from an interview). I needed a stick to beat them away. I finally asked for the manager, got him and asked why today I had everyone pushing so hard. He said because they give "stellar" service to all their customers. Had no answer when I informed him that I'd been there 2 days prior and been completely ignored by many of these same salesmen.

You're prejudged in these cases. In theirs, it cost them a $300 suit sale. I went to JC Pennys.

My wifes step father owned his own business. He cleared lots for commercial and resd. builders. The business itself did fantastic! Obviously, doing the type of work he did, he was pretty much as you said, a jeans and t shirt guy. He went to look for a new truck. He was the type of person to either pay cash for things or put so much of a downpayment down, the payments were next to nothing. Needless to say, the service he got sucked. He went to another dealership, bought a new truck, cash, drove back to the first place and went in to see the manager. They went outside, where he showed him his new truck. He told the mgr. that he was there a few days earlier, the service sucked, so he left. While getting into his truck, he stated that if perhaps his salesmen were a bit nicer, his business would've went to them. My question: Why should he or anyone else for that matter, have to show up dressed to kill to take a truck for a test drive?

Is the dealership gonna close because of that? No. But word of mouth does wonders. :)
 

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All these stories make me sad. My industry is dying, we are resigned to reception duties and being told we havn't got call center experience.

*spits*
 

Bob Hubbard

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I worked for Media Play a decade ago. Was told to give exceptional service, take customers right to what they were looking for, etc. Got yelled at repeatedly by managers for not being in my area.

Now MP is no more.

Ironic, ne?
 

Drac

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. My question: Why should he or anyone else for that matter, have to show up dressed to kill to take a truck for a test drive?

Because despite how far we think we have advanced we STILL violate an old rule and " judge a book by its cover."..
 

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Managing a customer service team was one of the more challenging jobs that I have had. Before i became the manager, there was high turnover in the dept., the Co. didn't pay much for the job, and most reps got burned out within one year. It was gruelling taking complaints all day.There usually wasn't a large pool of candidates to hire from. The really exceptional people went for higher level jobs.
I was able to turn things around a bit by getting them higher pay, more training, and took more care in hiring the right people.

I agree that it can be difficult to find top notch customer service.
I think nowadays, having superior customer service is what separates one company from another. I think many people are willing to pay more if they know that will get first rate service.

I have also had bad customer service experiences like many of the previous posts explained. I have gone with other products I didn't even like as much just because i got fed up with poor service.

MJS, I had the same newspaper issues until they changed the carrier. I feel your pain! :)
 

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.........customers often deal with the people who are serving them in a very rude, abrupt waymore as though they were dealing with robots than human beings.
I find this problem in my job, a lot lately (I own a small independent Mom-and-Pop book and gift store). There is an old saying: "I don't mind being a servant; I mind being treated like a servant." I have found lately several Customers taking their angst out on some of my sales staff, and I am glad to say, that most of the time the sales folks respond with kindness and forebearance in spite of it.

IMHO I think that the low quality of customer service comes back to pride in your job or at least how well you do your job.
I agree. I know I have succeeded as an employer when one of my employees no longer sees the book store as 'Ann's store where I work'. I have succeeded in communicating to them the value of what they do and the contribution to the community they make, when each employee sees it individually as their bookstore.

I agree that Customer Service is almost extinct these days. I have tried to find local stores and restaurants that I can take my people in training to, to show them, "This is what good Customer service looks like." Instead, I have to tell them a whole string of examples of BAD customer service, which they can all relate to, as they have all experienced it.

I tell them that Customer service boils down to 85% the Golden Rule: they may never have worked in a book or gift shop before, but they have all been shopping before. They all know how they like to be treated, so they know how they should treat other Customers. And that other 15%? That boils down to just plain old-fashioned common sense.
 
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