Its Customer Service, How Hard Can it Be???

photo by Here’s Kate via PhotoRee

Lately the topic of customer service has been top of mind for me, being from the perspective of someone who has to be on the receiving end of this concept. I am always amazed when I am treated to great customer service. When this happens it not only makes my day that much better, but it also makes me wonder why this isn’t the norm? I mean, why wouldn’t you want to make your customers happy. By doing so you increase the chance of repeat business and potentially creating a brand champion on your behalf. Granted some companies may have the enviable position of being the only provider available for the service you are seeking and knowing this may demotivate them to making your experience a great one.

An example scenario manifested itself in the last couple of weeks as my wife and I have endured a move from Chicago, IL to Denver, CO. As part of this move we were set up with a choice of two moving companies provided by my wife’s new company. Once the contract was locked in the issues began. The moving company first missed their delivery window and never reached out to us, then for over 2 weeks they were unresponsive to our requests for more information. Once our goods finally arrived they gave us excuses not apologies, saying that they had a lot more business than they had expected and it put them behind by several weeks. That being said, where was the responsiveness? Where was the urgency to solve the problem that they created for us? It got me to wondering, when business is good, do companies tend to let customer service slide because they know they will be bringing in money regardless? Or are some companies just hiring the wrong “personalities” to man their customer service ranks? I have lost count of how many times I have been met with a bad attitude across the counter or over the phone from someone being paid to represent a company. They could care less about the customer’s experience, as long as they keep bringing in a paycheck. Is this a break down in that organization’s incentive or hiring process? One could argue that it’s a bigger problem with society and that people just don’t take accountability for their actions or work ethic like they used to, but I am a strong believer in incenting the behavior, and that companies do have some control over how their employees choose to interact with customers. Whether that be hiring the people with the right values match for the company or through incentives that reward the appropriate behavior.

So, should I be so shocked when I am greeted with exceptional experience? Or should I be flabbergasted at the fact that this isn’t the norm? I know there are some companies out there that through good and bad times they always put the customer experience first. So why aren’t more companies like this? Should consumers take more initiative to punish companies with poor customer service? I know I try to avoid giving business to companies who mistreat or don’t appreciate their customers.

About the author: Heath

6 comments to “Its Customer Service, How Hard Can it Be???”

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  1. Luke - July 27, 2011 at 8:40 AM Reply

    “Should consumers take more initiative to punish companies with poor customer service?”
    I typically receive good customer service. Sometimes I do get treated poorly and it is usually by an individual not an actual company. When this happens I make sure to let the manager know. I see this as being good for the company and good for me. If I let it slide my problem might not get resolved and that person will just go on treating the next person disrespectfully.

    • Heath - July 27, 2011 at 1:24 PM Reply

      Good point Luke. If nothing is said then we can’t expect it to be fixed, but we can expect them to strive for good customer service to begin with. I also try to let someone know when they have provided good service. Hopefully that incents them to keep up the good work!

  2. Mindy - July 28, 2011 at 8:17 AM Reply

    We have made a point to alert managers and individuals when we have noticeably GOOD service. Ron has been known to stand off to the side and wait for someone’s conversation to end so he can approach them and tell them what a great job they/their employee did. I feel that acknowledging good service and behavior is actually less common (except, perhaps, for leaving a generous tip), than complaints about bad service. Complaints are important, and alert a company to a problem they need to address, but cynical Mindy tends to think that it doesn’t usually lead to the change that we hope for. Too often, it’s just a “squeaky wheel” that they deal with and, unfortunately for the customer, they move on, meet the status quo, blah blah blah.

    Companies who care about customer service should be hiring people with the right philosophy and integrity. I think the only way to really counteract bad customer service [externally] is to stop patronizing the company. If they gave bad customer service in the first place, I have a hard time believing they would react positively to criticism. Unless you’re a VIP. It’s too bad, because good customer service in reaction to a horrible mixup or mistake will actually result in you singing their praises almost as much (if not more?) than if they just did their job correctly and uneventfully. “Well, they missed their deadline, which was bad, but to make it up to us they, this this this and this! We were so impressed!” Whoa, long comment.

  3. Harriet May - August 25, 2011 at 6:20 PM Reply

    I work for a startup, so I get the chance to do all kinds of things on a day-to-day basis. One of them is customer service. I have a lot of vested interest in our company’s success, so making callers happy is a serious priority for me (I wonder if this is a problem at bigger companies with ginormous call centers and long hours?). Many times the result is out of my control (there are questions I just can’t answer and I have to refer them to someone else, and sometimes people call in to ask me things like how to use their internet browser, which puts me in a tough spot because although I really really want to help I also do not necessarily know Firefox inside out!). And I try to followup when I can so if I’ve passed a caller on to someone else they always feel they can come back to me if they don’t receive the right response or a response at all. But whatever the case, I make it a priority to be VERY understanding, patient, respectful and kind. I’ll even admit I am much better at that than I am at the actual technical support I’m assumed to be a whiz at, and it gets me a long way. Just today someone called me “a doll”!

    • Heath Port - August 25, 2011 at 10:57 PM Reply

      I think you hit it Harriet, a major part of it is the attitude you bring to the job and understanding the bigger picture of servicing a customer and not just collecting a pay check. Granted some companies don’t treat their customer service employees well, so when they still provide service I am even more impressed! Thanks for the perspective!

  4. Point of view - December 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM Reply

    You have to consider things from their perspective. The abuse those poor bastards take from assholes on a daily basis can leave you pretty jaded and misanthropic. When you do all you can for someone and it’s not good enough for them or wasn’t the answer they wanted you’re seen as the bad guy when you had absolutely nothing to do with the problem. People suck.

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