Friday, August 8, 2008

For Every Excuse A New Strategy

The Customer is always right (even when they are wrong.)

It used to be a staple point of the customer service job, but lately I've been wondering where has that mentality gone? Was it ever right? Does it fit with todays times or are we just greedy, "I want it my way" kind of people?

A conversation took place at work recently where our customer service "help desk" people we able to aire their grevences. While each person had individual complaints, they all centered around one basic issue - lack of clear cut and INFORCABLE standards with how the customer should be delt with.

"The customer is being unreasonable, where do I draw the line and say no to at request?"

The answer was simple..."You don't."

I can say I believe these words to be true because 'I've been there and done that.' It was a difficult lesson for me to learn, but in the effort of satisfying a customer, regardless of how unreasonable their requests may be - your job is still 'customer service' and they need to be accomodated to the best of your ability.

In todays world, technology has enabled us to air our grievences in many outlets. Social Media's are taking the marketing community by storm and even though a company has spent a lifetime building a reputation, all it takes is a few negative tweets or blogs to start an avalanche of bad PR.

Just look at the recent news with comcast and their massive generation of press because they have a staff that watches the tweets of disgruntled customers in an effort to minimize bad press. Many more companies are jumping on the band wagon and I imagine this will only be the beginning. Companies that are attempting to stay out of the social media frenzie are not safe either - take for example the recent Exxon media in which a woman by the name of 'Janet' had taken to posting as an Exxon Rep which stirred up controversies in itself.

Technology has given us many new and wonderful things - I can buy and sell items in the comfort of my home, I can praise and complain someone without ever having in person interaction, and I can review and rate a product without ever having my opinions questioned. It really is a wonderful place - however in the eyes of customer service, it puts a whole new spin on 'big brother watching.'

Think about it for just a moment, it used to be you filled out a comment card or were asked to participate in a survey when visiting a store - now, surveys are online and companies monitor your purchases via cookies or purchase history. Now they monitor your online interactions as well - personally I'm a little afraid.

What do you think? Customer service changes, are they better than what they were years ago or do you think we are headed into the unknown.


Jenn said...

I think customer service today least in the "live" world. You cann go into a store today and NOT be greeted, NOT be helped. Sometimes you cannot even find someone to help you, or the people you find have no clue what they're alking about. Customer service goes beyond just dealing with greivances.

Semi-Charmed Wife said...

I agree with Jenn--customer service has taken a nosedive over the past few years. It's so frustrating to walk into a store and be mistreated or ignored. I'm here to spend money--PAY ATTENTION TO ME! And don't even get me started on trying to reach an actual HUMAN on the phone...

The one way I think things have improved is online customer service--I love being able to send an email or do a quick online chat to resolve problems...

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am sad to say I agree with the other two. My most recent experiences have led me to believe that customer service is certainly not what it used to be!

J & J Acres said...

The restaurant I worked at while I was in college had the 'customer is always right' mentality. So we had customers who would come in repeatedly, complain, get a free meal, and come back the next week and do the same thing.

And when I called Presto about a fryer basket I ordered, she acted like b/c I ordered off the internet that it wasn't their fault that they didn't tell me it was backordered. (After I waited three weeks for it to show up and missed Mr. C's birthday) WTF? It's YOUR company!

Jojo said...

I agree with the others too...customer service SUCKS ASS JUICE! Especially with big companies, they think because they have millions of customers already, what's one unhappy customer. People on the phone too - they think they can act like morons, oh wait they are!, because I can't wrangle them in real life. But I agree also that some customers just demand too much...if you're unreasonable, what the hell is anyone supposed to do.

Busymama Kellie said...

That's a hard one. I know what it's like on both sides. I think customer service in a lot of stores and companies sucks big time. No work ethic anymore. But we also have some winner patients in our office that have unreasonable demands and no clue as to what is best for their health. All they care about is cost and that does not always mean quality care. Sometimes you just gotta kick that patient out regardless of the bad PR!