A large aspect of my job is customer service. The user experience, customer satisfaction – whatever you want to call it. I manage the customer service department of my company. I love it. I don’t always love some of the daily tasks that others excel at, but I love taking an unhappy or ambivalent customer and turning them around. I like resolving complaints and I love getting emails that tell us what a great job we are doing. I think we do do a great job of it. We are proactive, we try to resolve complaints, offer refunds with no strings, respond to every email and phone call quickly and we try to go above and beyond when the opportunity presents itself. I love to read about customer service (and am always on the lookout for good blogs, if you have recommendations!). A lot of how I base my decisions is on how I would like to be treated myself, or based on mistakes I have seen other companies make.
I am a discriminating customer. I have written (and hope to write more!) reviews on this blog. I am always on the lookout for ways a company can impress me, and always disappointed when they fall short.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to understand I have balance. Both The Consumerist and Not Always Right are daily reads.
You got all that? I love my customers. I love giving great service, and I love receiving it. But I would very much like to believe that I am a good customer – that my expectations are reasonable, that I am pleasant to deal with and that I generally have issues resolved to my satisfaction. I am sure some reps would disagree with me, but I think I have more checks on the “Not a Jerk” column.
Have you ever heard the story of the tire return at Nordstrom? Or this recent story about a return at L.L. Bean? Both are awesome stories of customer service. I am impressed at the company’s empowering their reps to do what they thought was right, and it had the desired effect of great P.R. and probably a customer for life.
So, why am I whining? I think we are creating monsters. Again, don’t get me wrong – I think we should get premium service when we pay premium prices. And I think that companies should really acknowledge that the customer is choosing to spend their money with them. It’s not only good for the bottom line, but its just part of being a good person or member of the community. The problem is – I think we are spoiling people.
We keep being told that the customer is always right. The recession is here, and money is tight and companies should be fighting over our dollars. And in a sense, that’s true. But – let’s get real. We all know that when you tell Target that you will never shop there again if they don’t accept a return of an obviously worn sneaker that you don’t mean it and will be back there as soon as something you want is on sale. And its a little ridiculous to expect minimum-wage earning employees to know the SKU number of everything in the store. I think that what you can expect is at the very least, a greeting, a smile and the willingness to ask a manager a question that they cannot answer.
Of course, the more premium the service, the more you should expect. I think it also has to do with how well the employee is being treated. Trader Joe’s and Starbucks are great example of this concept. If you treat employees well, they may go the extra mile to pass along that love to your customer. Stores know that. Stores that hire jerks don’t really care about customer satisfaction, because they are competing mainly on price or your laziness (convenience).
I just wish people would take a second and think before they make demands. Are they requesting a refund, exchange or whatever because they think its fair? Are they trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Are they trying to get away with something? If you are a customer, think about if you have really been wronged, or just have buyer’s remorse. Should a company have to pay for a mistake you may have made?
This is a plea to companies to put a stop to it and not kowtow to every threat of “complaining to the internet/my ‘very influential friends’/your CEO” or we are going to end up worshipping these beasts, the same way being a “Bridezilla” or a “Super Sweet 16 Star” is considered some sort of acceptable behavior worthy of cable TV adulation.