Why is This So Hard?
Anita Sharpe on Business
I've had a bad customer-service week.
I get annoyed when people use the media as a personal bully pulpit, so for now, I'll refrain from naming the offenders (although, if I have many more weeks like this, I may change my mind). Let's just call one, Large Internet Provider or LIP, and the other, Major Electronics Chain, or MEC.
At LIP, you have to call a customer service rep to cancel service. Sounds easy enough. The catch is, when you call in, there is no menu selection for discontinuing service and no one on any of the other call-in options has the authority to do so. So you are transferred to someone who, if this person actually exists, has that authority. Maybe the magic waiting time is 46 minutes and not 45, but after a month of trying, I never reached a human. You would think that someone who wants to cancel would get top priority, the smoothest salesperson offering all kinds of gambits to keep you. \n\nA web search turned up enough similar stories to affirm that I'm not the only one who fails see how this policy can do anything but foster lots of really bad word-of-mouth marketing.\n\nThe day I visited MEC to buy a $400 digital camera, the store had two registers open -- both busy processing lengthy returns. One worker, employed just a week, was trying to train herself to do the return. As the lines grew longer and the frustration more vocal, she teared up. After waiting 20 minutes (I was first in line), I found a management-type and said: 'You need to open another register or I think a lot of us are going to leave.' His response? 'You can leave if you want to.'\n\nCustomer service is viewed as a cost-center by most companies. Smart companies, such as Lexus, know better. Smart companies give even low-level employees enormous authority to make customers happy. \n\nAnd if you look at consistent sales growth and customer loyalty, it's easy to separate the smart companies from the LIPs and MECs.\n\n