Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Contagious Customer Service

When writing a new book entitled Contagious Customer Service, it never ceases to amaze me the plethora of examples that one can gather about the state of customer service in most places these days. Whether it is over the phone or in person, merchants seem to be too busy to assist, to short on patience to listen, or too caught up in the bottom line and "NEXT" mentality to take the time to treat each customer as an individual special contributing member of their balance sheet. Has it become a lost art to actualy give a darn about your customers or is it only at the highest markup of establishments that one should expect to be treated well, mainly because one is paying though the nose?

The bigger question is why to we accept it? Why do we say "okay, I'll come back" when a merchant is obviously frenetic working on another customer's deadline, but has legitimately and accidently overcharged you by $6000? Why do we tolerate rude phone service folks and raise our own blood pressure followed by a request for a supervisor? Why do we do it? What if we just didn't do business with those who didn't treat us the way we expected to be treated? what if we lowered our expectations? Why should we have to? I have seen clerks at 7/11 pay more attention to a friendly service level than some of the service vendors I utilize - not all mind you, but some. And then there is my friendly neighborhood Kinko's ( in which I can go in any day or night and get a greeting and most of the time it's by name. (I'm in there a few times a week)There is the woman on the phone with Bank of America who bent over bankwards to assist me with an erroneous charge and then there is the rep at the large phone company that sounds like Squint that makes the life of the woman who runs my office a living nightmare because of their constant system issues, lack of customer focus and lack of interest in changing apparently.

It's a mixed bag and part of it is why we do so much Customer Service training and business, but at what point do we all throw our hands in air and cry out for something a little better than "what do you want?"

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