Monday, November 2, 2009

Customers, please don't bother us!

Mr. Franklin, my boss would get upset if the phone wasn’t answered by the second ring. Why? The customer was important to Mr. Franklin. Without the customers he wouldn’t be in business. The cultural standard for companies was to have the best customer service possible. A company wanted the best customer service because they wanted to have more customers and happy customers were good customers, loyal customers. So way back then, I answered the phone quickly and courteously because I didn’t want to disappoint my boss or the customer.

If the occasion happened when I didn’t have an immediate answer for the customer or another company employee was required and on another line, the customer was asked if they preferred to a) leave a message, or b) could hold for a short time. If they said they would like to hold, we were to notify the company person/department that they had a call waiting. At first, it was by note, then we upgraded to a flashing button on the phone. The idea was for the customer to be the least inconvenienced as possible. Why? Because we wanted to serve the customer, so they would be our customer.

By the attitude (and time on hold), today’s company couldn’t care less which company you use, or what services you have with them.

Case in point, I want to add to my service, don’t have to, just want to. Before I decide how much service to add, I’d like to know my options, the cost, you know, the details, the fine print. So, I called. The first thing the recording announces: Go to www.we.don’ to find your own answers or hold for 10 minutes.

I opt for both. I hold the line and turn on my computer.

The website isn’t intuitive but I navigate to the service area which provides only general information and a shopping cart. I click on all the links to hidden information to find some additional charges but still not all the answers to my questions.

After 20 minutes, Mark answers the phone.

Customer Service: “Hi I’m Mark. How can I make you very pleased with our service?”

I laugh: “Mark, at this point VERY pleased isn’t even on the scale. I’ve been on hold 20 minutes. But if you could answer some questions I have about…”I continued to explain what I wanted, that the website offered only general information, I needed answers to my questions before adding to my service.

Mark was very pleasant and said: “Let me see if I can get that information for you. Would you mind holding while I get that information?”

“Okay, I’ll wait a minute.”

Ten minutes later. “Hi this is Veronica, I’m sorry but your account isn’t showing on my screen.”

Back to square one.

Veronica answered the questions and was in the process of filling the shopping cart attached to my account.

“No. I don’t want to add the service unless you can attach it to my current plan.”

“But it doesn’t make a difference.”

“Yes it does. I want everything all on the same contract.”

“But you have different dates now.”

“No, my contracts are all together.”

“On your account, it shows… you’re a very long time customer… oh… they are on the same date. Why is that?”

“Because, if I’m not happy… I can decide not to renew my contract, all on the same day.”

“Really? Wow…So can I add the service?”

“Unless you can add it to the current contract, I’ll just wait.”

“You won’t have to wait and it will only be a $175.00 fee to cancel if you don’t renew your other contract.”

“Yes I know.”

“So I can add the service?”

“No, because I don’t want to have the fees attached to different dates.”

“No one ever asks about that.”

“It seems so.”

“On a scale of 1-5, 5 being best, how would you rate my service on this call.”

“I didn’t really get any service, but I was on hold for more than 30 minutes before you answered some of my questions.”

“I’m sorry.”

Bottom line:Cost to this company because they were unable to provide the additional service without penalty fees: $100. Plus I’ve gone from not thrilled, to unhappy with their attitude toward me, their customer.

But what’s $100. times how ever many other customers get frustrated?

My old boss, Mr. Franklin would have been angry if any of his customers were treated with such distain. He would have fired the offender and personally called the customer and made sure they were pleased with the service, his personal attention, and probably thrown in a little extra to make up for the trouble.

Don’t fret over me. I’m not holding my breath until a supervisor calls to make sure this long time customer is a happy customer. They won’t be making more money off me for additional services I want because they’ve made it too aggravating to add it. It affects their bottom line every day, but they really don’t care so long as customers don’t inconvenience them.

1 comment:

Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

Kate, this sounds almost identical to the customer no-service call I experienced last year. I wanted to add a cell phone to my home phone and internet line. They wanted a $1,000 deposit because I wasn't a Canadian citizen.

"But I have an established account with you for my home & internet service. I just want to add the cell phone."
"We can't do that. It's a seperate department."

Sometimes I think it's a game called, How Much Crap Can I Dish Out.

Ginger B.