Friday, February 12, 2016

Customer Service

Carolyn J. Rose

Recently I was privileged to judge the customer service competition at a student skills event.

The kids were nervous and uncertain, but all did their best to help a “customer” exchanging an item while also fielding a phone call from another “customer.” They smiled. They apologized. They explained company policy. They sympathized and related. They did all they could to send the “customer” off feeling that problems would be resolved and issues addressed. And they did it all face to face.

Which is NOT the way is usually happens in the real world of corporate America.

You’re aware of this if you’ve ever been billed by your bank for making too many deposits and withdrawals through human tellers instead of an ATM. You’re aware if you’ve placed a call to a major health insurance corporation or a gigantic cable company.

 You probably found yourself in what seemed like an audio maze. A recorded voice offered menus of broad or confusing choices. In despair, you pushed buttons and were put on hold. You might have remained there for half an hour, sentenced to listen to sales pitches or music selected only by rabid fans of Barry Manilow or Wayne Newton.

The intention may be to cut costs while making use of technology. But I wonder if, in the long run, more money is lost than saved.

By the time I’ve spent ten minutes in the electronic-choices maze, I’m frustrated, angry, and ready to take my business elsewhere. By the time I’m connected with a human being, I often unload. And despise myself later for picking on a person who isn’t at fault and is, in fact, also a victim of the system.

I hate to fall back on the blanket statement that the old days were better. But, when it comes to customer service, they were.