Friday, August 22, 2014

Hello Customer Service? Are You There?

Dare I say that I am old enough, but I can remember twenty years ago when good customer service was a regular occurrence.  Great customer service stood out, which would always prompt me to either mention it at the time or write a letter complimenting the staff member or company on their excellent standard of service. Likewise if service was appalling, I have a tendency to enlighten, shall we say, the business in question.

These days, I honestly don't know how to feel when I receive good customer service.  Am I happy to have received it? Or disappointed that it was noticeable?  And that is just good service, not great!

What is going on in society that customer service has deteriorated to almost nothing? What has happened to the notion of 'the customer is always right?'

Of course the customer isn't always right and so often we would love to tell them so.  The notion behind that saying though is that 'the customer is important enough to our business that they are worth doing the right thing by'.  After all, word of mouth can be a VERY powerful tool.  Isn't it what I am doing now?

Just this week, I (the customer) followed up on an issue that has stretched on for the past two months.  The issue has been addressed entirely on email.  With some of the content, I would have thought that the vendor in this instance would have tripped over themselves trying to work the issue out.  But, a big, fat no!  No-one was willing to take responsibility for resolving the issue.  Instead it got passed from one person to the next until finally yesterday I received an email that said:
"this department is not authorised to make decisions" (on my matter)
I pulled up just short of seeing complete red.  They mean to say I have wasted time liaising with them instead of being referred on to the correct party?  They have got to be kidding me.  The email I returned however highlighting their lack of customer service, customer importance and how appalled I was at their lack of action seemed to ring a bell with someone of note because within the next hour the matter, for the greater part, was resolved.  

Why do things need to escalate to such a level before anything is done?

Customer service is not a hard concept to understand nor is it a difficult skill to execute. It comes down to knowing, and respecting, who at the end of the day pays your wage (if you wish to get that technical) and plain old common decency towards your fellow citizens.

In this day and age of technology where so many transactions are faceless, it is easy to see why customer service levels have dropped. Why should it though? What needs to be remembered is that also in this day and age of technology, many similar companies are popping up and bad customer service will just make the consumer move on. And usually with a few words to others about their experience.  There is always another company willing to take your money and some of those will even treat their customers with respect, ensuring return business.  So whilst companies may not put the focus on customer service these days, they should also remind themselves that they too are disposable.

Where to from here?  Well, I can't change the world in one blog post...or can I?  However you have clearly seen how important it is to me.  Yes, I am a customer service based person to the core.  I can, and am, raising my boys to be respectful of others and will continue to instill in them the importance of extending that respect to their customers, obviously dependant upon their line of work.  They are both 4 at the moment, so we have a way to go!

Customer service should be 'not so secret' and I would dearly love to see a comeback of it. Even as the world advances, it is sometimes the good old fashioned things we miss the most.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it is time customer service made a comeback?

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