Like This Content? Bookmark and Share it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crappy Customer Service – The New Way to Do Business

Not to date myself here, but ‘back in my day’ the rule about ‘the customer is always right’ was a big one. It was drilled into our heads at every place I worked. Another rule pounded into employee heads was how important great customer service was – to always be friendly, courteous, and helpful. It was part of our job to smile and say ‘Hello’ to each and every customer. It was also our job to go above and beyond the call of duty for customers. Happy customers will come back and will tell their friends about their wonderful experience. Unhappy customers will not come back and will shout to the moon about how awful their experience was.

I was taught that when dealing with money, you not only count back the change, but you place it in the customer’s hand – coins first. This is because not only did you count the change back coins first, but it is easier for the customer to control the money you give to them if the coins are in their palm, and the bills are on top. If you count back the change to the customer, you both know they were given the right amount or can catch a mistake. In all the time I worked as a cashier, the only time my till was ever off at all was when another cashier had access to it. Counting back change is a check and balance system for accuracy.

I was taught that even if the customer is ornery, while you did not have to take abuse, you should make every effort to be understanding, helpful, and pleasant. I cannot tell you how many times I calmed, pleased, and diffused the temper of irate customers by doing exactly that. I even had customers apologize to me for their behavior.

In the case of returns and exchanges, the same rules applied – courtesy, the customer is always right, and do everything within reason to make the customer happy. Even if they are unhappy with a product, they would be so happy with the customer service and with the easy return/exchange policy, they would feel assured they could make purchases with the store that they would ultimately not regret – the store would fix any problems.

Nowadays the rules have changed. Customers are treated as the enemy. Change is virtually thrown at customers by growling sourpuss cashiers who don’t even look at their customers, much less say ‘hello’ or smile. More than once I have counted back my own change after picking it up when it was thrown at me to find they had made a mistake and shorted me or overpaid me. When I brought it to their attention, they did not even care. Does the end of shift/day till counts not matter anymore?

Need to make a return or exchange? Good luck with that. Not only have policies at stores changed so much that it is difficult if not impossible to do so, but often customers are treated as if they are criminals trying to bilk the store simply because they want to do so.

If you used your card in making the purchase, while they likely immediately took the funds off your card, they won't immediately replace them on returns. You have to wait 3-5 days for 'processing'. Many stores push or will only give store credit now. No funds will be returned.

The online world of business is much the same. So much effort is put into developing a great website, marketing, and advertising that customer service is overlooked or ignored. Over the years, out of all the websites I have contacted with questions or problems I would estimate that only 10% ever responded. Of those, about 75% were form letter type responses that rarely addressed the actual concern in my contact.

Recently, the Hershey Company had something on their website asking for suggestions. I used the listed method of contact to give them a suggestion. They replied – with a form letter reply apologizing for my unhappiness with their product and letting me know a coupon was in the mail to me. Huh?

While I appreciate the thought, I did not complain about their product, and from a business standpoint, they just wasted the cost of the coupon, the mailing, and the savings from the coupon. With one customer, it may not seem like much, but Hershey Company is already struggling financially and if this is how their customer service operates, I doubt I was the only person who got a form letter and coupon. By the way, I never used the coupon. If it was a ploy to get me to buy the product, it did not work.

With so many choices available online, it is crucial that business up the level of their customer service in order to compete. With rare exception, there is not a business around that cannot be easily replaced by unhappy customers.

No comments:

Copyright © 2008 - 2011 Daniella Nicole. All rights reserved.