Is customer service dead? Can you really get stellar assistance anymore?
I am especially particular about a good customer service experience and have been consistently disappointed with my interactions lately. Whether it is an upbeat and attentive server in a restaurant or a knowledgeable and patient tech support representative on the phone, I am constantly seeking the best experience and coming up short.
MY RECENT EXPERIENCE
Please allow me to share my recent telephone customer service experience with the kind folks down at the AZ State Benefit Service Division who handle my health insurance.
Somehow they changed my mailing address back to an old mailing address (after seven months of successfully sending it to my new one), so I had to call them to get it corrected. It ends up that I can’t just call; they need it in writing. I have to send them an email- no big deal, really.
So, the lady is giving me the email address and she says it is “firstname.lastname@example.org
Then she goes on to say, “That’s benefit with an ‘f’.”
(blink, blink-stunned silence)
Um….really? Thanks for clarifying. I was afraid it might have been spelled with a “ph.”
This phone call has given me the utmost confidence in the people at the State of AZ Benefit Service Division handling my health insurance. (insert sarcasm here)
Unfortunately this experience is all too common. A recent routine call to Walgreens to refill a prescription ended up as a thirty minute merry-go-round of misunderstanding, and at a recent wedding reception at a swanky restaurant I was sassed by an angry server upset at having to schlep drinks to merry-making guests. The last time I checked, these are services rendered upon receipt of payment. I don’t think it would kill anyone to exhibit a bit of kindness in the process.
EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH?
Before you think that I am just a cranky customer with high expectations (not that I am shunning that description) I have to say that I have consistently been amazed (in a good way) by the exceptional customer service from Apple. I recently had a question regarding the management of a magazine account on my new iPad and emailed a service ticket with my question. In less than three hours I had a detailed reply in my Inbox outlining the process from a representative named Rupert. The email answered exactly what I had asked and provided me other sources of information if I had further questions. Since my question was answered, I did not reply to Rupert.
To my surprise, I received a follow-up email from Rupert the next day making sure he had answered my question. I am stunned and pleased that Apple is taking the time to follow-up with their customers. I replied to Rupert with a sincere thank you and answered a survey sent by Apple with glowing praise. How refreshing to feel like a priority among the masses of customers Apple serves every day.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
I am undecided in my response to a poor customer service experience. When I receive great service I am the first to send a quick letter or notify a supervisor that their employee was helpful, but how do I address the other side of the spectrum? I admit I am prone to the angry outburst and hang-up method, but I would like to know that my frustration is really heard, rather than upsetting anyone personally. When I write a well thought out letter to a company and receive no response, I feel like I haven’t been heard.
I’d like to hear how you handle customer service disappointment, both as a customer and as a provider. Do you own or manage a business that handles customer service complaints? How do you ensure that your customer returns after a poor experience? If you are dissatisfied, how do you make yourself heard? More than that, do you ever return?
I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!