There is something that irritates people to no end in today’s world: customer service.
Despite the fact that there are exponentially more ways to contact companies than 15 years ago, trying to talk to a representative still leaves people on the verge of rampage. As much as we try to automate the process, customer service still needs to be managed by real human beings.
The E-mail Address
What should be the easiest way to contact a company is usually the worst. Sending emails to firstname.lastname@example.org can lead you into a vortex of talking to five to 10 representatives without your questions actually getting answered.
I have a friend who dealt with her cable company recently and the “customer service” that she received was nothing less than horrid. She emailed the cable company (which will remain anonymous) at email@example.com and received replies from three different “people” who she had suspected to be computer automations that just acted like people.
Tammy informed her that any service needed to be cancelled seven days in advance and schedule a time to have the router picked up. This was tricky because she had already moved. When asked if she could drop off the router at a brick and mortar location, Colleen jumped in.
Colleen then credited Anna’s account $3.58, but needed her new address to mail the check to.
The kicker was that it will take four to six weeks to receive her $3.58 refund. Although this amount isn’t much, there are other cases where hundreds of dollars are at stake. I wonder what the cable company would have said if they sent a bill and she replied “I’ll have the money to you in 4 to 6 weeks.” I have a feeling that her service would be shut off and a third party collection agency would be involved.
It just shocks me that companies are so gung ho about getting your money but aren’t so good at returning it. It’s as if the mail is still delivered by horse and buggy, and there’s all this “processing” that needs to happen first.
The Phone Number
All of us have been in this position with a variety of different companies. “Press 1 for blah blah blah, press 2 for blah blah blah” and the list goes on. I have yet to hear the button I need to press that actually addresses my specific problem and get transferred to half of the company until I find someone who can help.
I honestly have nightmares about elevator music.
They might give you an estimated amount of time to sit on hold (less than five minutes) which is always doubled (more than ten) by the time you speak with somebody. You can only hope that the person you talk to — when you finally get a real person — is the one who can actually help you with your problem. A quick tip is to write down the person who you are speaking with who is actually helpful so if you need to call on a later date, you know who to be transferred to immediately.
The Social Media Accounts
This is where everything gets a little fuzzy.
On one hand, this medium of communication lends people to nag companies relentlessly until they get an answer, and is often run by the marketing department instead of customer service.
On the other hand, companies tweet at an alarming rate but don’t seem to have the time to answer questions posed by customers. That’s doing social media wrong.
Social media should be used to connect customers and companies but also leave an open line of communication for problems or questions. If the company ignores a person via social media then they are dropping the ball as far as customer service goes. Conversely, if a person is berating a company on social media, they need to learn some manners and shouldn’t expect a response to an inflammatory statement. Remember, you will never get a response via email, Twitter, or the phone if you swear at somebody, and you will have to start the whole process over again because you have the manners of a child.
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Large companies have hundreds of customer service representatives; this keeps them from being accountable at a personal level. Plus they have so many customers that losing a few doesn’t have the same impact on them as a smaller company.
I’ve only been the connections manager for a few weeks, but I’ve learned from the big companies when handling clients. Let me rephrase that, I’ve learned what not to do from the big companies.
If a client has an issue, they can email me and I will get back to them immediately and not between the times of Monday at noon and Friday at six. They here from me, not a robot with my name attached.
I understand that having a point person for each client is not plausible at large companies but the personal touch being lost is a travesty. There are so many quick ways that they can improve their customer service – even little things like updating the elevator music – that I’m left angry and disloyal when large companies give me the run around.
Which is why I recommend that Anna take her cable needs elsewhere.