Friday, December 13, 2013

Have Americans Had Enough of Bad Customer Service?

It's interesting that a recent study reports consumers in the United States have had enough of bad customer service.

I haven't experienced any of the extreme examples quoted in the above article, but I've had my share of lesser experiences.  The worst one may have been the boombox I purchased, brand new, several years ago (well, more than several years ago now) which came complete with a homemade mix tape from the previous owner sitting in the cassette player part.  (We did get the store in question to take it back.)

There's the dreaded letter you get that begins "to enhance our customer service" or "we are giving you more" and you know, halfway down the letter, that they will also disclose your costs have been increased.

There are the customer service phone menus, which are specially designed, I suspect, to make you give up.  My spouse gets so frustrated with them that I really do think they are designed like that on purpose.  I am a bit more patient.   The best part is when you reach your destination, have to give all your account info to an automated system, then, when you get someone live, you must - give it all to the rep again.

I won't even blog about the call centers that are obviously not in this country, featuring reps whose English is barely understandable.  That's my major frustration. Having said that, I also know people who work in call centers, and I never, ever give phone reps a hard time, even when I'm shredding the phone (or gritting my teeth) on the other end.  You never should be nasty, either. (Just saying...)

Finally, there is the experience I had with a famous department store whose name begins with M. I promised my Facebook friends I would blog about it - I'm still thinking that one through. But I'm pleased to say that I have not bought anything from said store since August and I've bought a number of new clothes due to my weight loss.  That billing problem experience, which stretched over three months, included several calls to their billing number.  Said number was out of town, in a different area code, was not toll free, and had about the worst designed menu system I've experienced in a long time.

But we are expected to buy, and buy, and buy, and buy, to keep our economy going.  And it's hard to vote with your pocketbook, when so many of their competitors feature the same nightmarish service.

It would be nice if we really had enough of shoddy experience.  I doubt it, though.  (Or, we can all start buying from Amazon.  It's not local, and it's not a brick and mortar but know what? I have never, ever, had a bad customer service experience with them.  Even on Black Friday, and I had to contact them this past Black Friday.  Their service was perfection.)

What was your worst customer service nightmare?

10 comments:

  1. My favorites are when you have to type in your account number, your phone number, and some other piece of information- to get in the queue, to provide all that again to the dingbat who takes almost as long as your wait to "verify" your information...

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    1. This is one of my (not) favorites too. That was one of the experiences I had when trying to call the "M" store billing number, among others.

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  2. Alana, I'm visiting from the UBC again, and I love your post today! I absolutely share your frustration and could tell you bad stories. However, I will share a great one: Zappos.com is a dream to deal with. And The Vermont Country Store is a dream to deal with. As a stress management expert, to get the most satisfying revenge, I vote with my bankcards! I've been dropping accounts and vendors that are a mess to deal with. Thanks for bringing up this important subject and airing it out!

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    1. Thank you for visiting and recommending two sites that provide great customer service. I will keep them in mind. I've been hesitant to shop online for shoes (and I know Zappos sells more) but I just might.

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  3. I'd have to say the worst I've had this year was with our cable/internet provider. You not only have to go through automated menus, you have to listen to a commercial for a wrestling show! Then you get a live rep, who can't check your signal until you get off the phone, so you have to wait and call them back… I could go on and on! But I did lose my patience the next day and was angry with the person on the phone and had to apologize, saying "I know it's not your fault that the service guy didn't show up but…"

    Conversely, when we got prompt and courteous service at an oil change place, I found myself exclaiming about it to my husband and then stopped saying, "Isn't it a shame that we're surprised when someone is polite these days?"

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    1. Cable companies do rank up there with the worst providers of customer service. And it isn't just Cox. We've had some bad experiences with Comcast, which is the cable provider where my mother in law lives. In fact, we are about to need service from our provider (Time Warner) I'm just dreading it!

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  4. Oh I had a ghastly one recently that horrified me, all over returning a faulty item returned with receipt and only 2 weeks after purchase, was made to feel like some sort of villain or something - I will never buy from them ever again.
    I use to work in retail and was trained that customer service is everything.
    I will go out of my way to revisit stores with good customer service and try and send in emails or comments to stores wherever I receive it.

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    1. Sorry to hear this kind of thing isn't just in the United States. I used to work in customer service myself, and I hate to find myself buying more and more from Amazon - but their service is some of the best I've ever experienced.

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  5. I don't think call centers come under the heading of customer service, but cold calls are the worst thing here in England. Beside the fact that you can't understand the words, the callers drag you away from notmal life to participate in advertising a product. My husband recently followed the example from a TV commercial. He said, Can you call me abck at the same time tomorrow?

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    1. Francene, do the phone companies in England offer caller ID? At one time (years ago) they didn't in the States but now I can't live without caller ID and my answering machine. They have kept us from countless, countless encounters with telemarketers.

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