Customer Service Is Job Six Or Seven… Or Maybe Eight

from the we've-got-more-important-things-to-do dept

Wasn’t customer service supposed to be job #1? While we all knew that most companies never really believed that, the situation appears to be getting worse. We’ve already written about tech support jobs where their only goal (which they were graded on) is their ability to get you off the phone as fast as possible, but this Washington Post article looks at the overall trend of companies spending less and less on customer service, and focusing on the wrong things. If you read the story, you’ll undoubtedly come across more than one story that you’ll identify with. These days, companies are doing everything they can not to help you solve problems. They like to blame other companies. They like to blame you. They like to tell you there’s nothing they can do – and none of that is true. One guy even has a rule – he knows to only bother speaking with customer service reps who refer to the company as “we” instead of “they.” The thing that’s the most annoying, however, is that every time an article like this gets written, the reporter always calls up corporate headquarters for a quote about a specific story – and the response is always the same. They always admit that the customer support person (who, of course, remains unidentified) made a mistake, and they really regret it. They might even throw in a typical “that’s an exception, not the rule.” However, with it happening to so many people on such a regular basis, it seems like a pretty big exception. Not once do these corporate spokespeople say what they plan to do to prevent such “exceptions” in the future.

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Comments on “Customer Service Is Job Six Or Seven… Or Maybe Eight”

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John Dowdell (user link) says:

"companies spending less and less on customer serv

The WaPo piece isn’t coming up for me right now. Is there info in the article which actually supports this conclusion, which would not simultaneously support the conclusion “customers are spending less and less on customer service”? (iow, where’s the money actually coming from, and who makes the actual decisions on bundling the services?)

With studies I’ve seen, the majority of people rarely choose to incur post-sales service costs. Of the minority who do call, the majority are one-time callers but a minority of these generate a significant percentage (even majority) of total calls. So, looked at another way, should the costs incurred by chronic callers be socialized onto all purchasers, or should pricing feedback be directly available when a cost is incurred? I lean towards the latter myself, but suspect the best balance point would vary with the service and the audience.

“These days, companies are doing everything they can not to help you solve problems.” ? I’d agree that there’s ongoing effort to help people help themselves via online resources, because it’s less expensive for all customers than having one-to-one conversations with those who can’t do online research, but what I take away from your line above almost sounds like you think businesses wouldn’t want their customers to be satisfied, which is obviously suicidal…?

John Dowdell
Macromedia Support

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The issue is that too many companies look at customer service as a cost center to be reduced – which explains things like setting up incentive plans for call centers that involve shorter phone calls – rather than successfully solving a customer’s problem.

As the article points out, the actual complaints (or people leaving to go to another provider) almost never reach the top execs, who assume that everything is going great.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, you wouldn’t think companies would want their customers to be unsatisfied, but it sure seems like it from the consumer end. I have sent back two purchased computers, will no longer buy rebate items, or commercial off-the shelf software, and will no longer deal with Gateway and Dell. The reasons? 1) poor customer service (even service I paid for), 2) errors in sales orders, which the seller did not want to correct, 3) the rebate scam, 4) commercial software that does not have half the features mentioned on the box.

I know corporations would prefer to avoid any and all responsibility concerning their products, but if you don’t stand behind them, don’t be surprised if peolpe stop buying them.

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