photo credit anamation guild
By Greg Johnson
This has absolutely nothing to do with anything of significance, other than to get it off my chest, mind and heart. So, here goes …
All major corporations should do away with the term “Customer Service” because they do everything but service the customer – unless the definition of “service” is: to provide escalating levels of frustration to the point of anger with no meaningful results.
I had a frustrating experience today with a major appliance company over a service request/warranty issue. The most frustrating part is of the 25 minutes I spent on the phone, 15 of them was telling my story to three different people, and two of the three told me they were not able to help me. The second conversation went something like this:
Me: “I have an issue I need resolved.”
CSR (Customer Service Representative): “How may I assist you?”
Me: (Insert a second detailed account of story)
CSR: “Oh, we don’t handle that here. Let me give you the number of our warranty department.”
Me: “I thought this was the warranty department.”
CSR: “We just sell the warranties. You’ll have to talk to our warranty service department. You called the wrong department.”
Me: “I DIDN’T CALL YOU, I GOT TRANSFERRED TO YOU!” (Yes, I was yelling.)
CSR: “Well, then you got transferred to the wrong department. I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to call warranty services. If you would like to purchase a new warranty, I can help you with that.”
Me: “Purchase a new a NEW warranty? Yes, I’d love to do that, because I’m very satisfied with the one I currently have.” (sarcasm intended but not caught)
CSR: “We have a variety of new warranty options for you to choose from…”
Me: “Yeah, I was joking.”
CSR: “Oh…Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Ok, so here are a few things every customer service department should institute immediately to ensure customer satisfaction:
- Say something like this up front: “Hi, my name is Lisa. Before you tell me your long, detailed story, please know I likely can’t help you and will end up transferring you to another person, so if you can tell me the nature of your problem in five words or less, it will save us both a lot of time.” While it sounds a little rude, I’d rather hear that earlier than later.
- Either give your CSR the ability to make decisions or just go ahead and get a manager on the phone, because if I called you, I only called because I needed a problem solved. So, now the conversation goes more like this: “Hi, my name is Lisa. My manager’s name is Steve. If this isn’t an address change request, you will need to talk to him.”
- Stop mirroring our federal government with all their “specialists.” Hire generalists and actually spend a few minutes on their training so they can handle more than one thing. It will cut costs and maybe cause you to restructure a few jobs. However, the people you employ will actually be able to handle a variety of issues with a single phone call. It’s a win-win; you get efficiency, which enables you to handle more calls and sell more warranty policies, and we get a conversation resembling something everyone wants to hear: “ Hi, my name is Lisa. Yes, I can handle that for you.”
I’m not asking for the customer to always be right, although I’m open to it. I am asking you to save my time and frustration and your employee’s time by eliminating the part where you educate me on your helpful processes, which are not my concern anyway, and educate your CRs enough on your core business, policies and procedures to be able to help me with my problem. This may sound angry, it’s not: I’m just trying to help us all along the way a little. Wouldn’t it be great to hear at the end of every conversation “All set Mr. Johnson, is there anything else I can help you with? No? Ok, have a great day.” One can dream.