My Pet Peeve: Customer Service

By: Wendy Van Over

Google defines Customer Service as: the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Offering amazing customer service is important if you want to retain customers and grow your business.

That sounds easy, doesn’t it? But why then, is it so hard to get good customer service?

I learned about customer service in high school. I was in a typing class where we also learned some basic rules on how to run a business. I didn’t know it then, but customer service was about to become my life’s work. Today, I have worked in state government for 32 years. There is not a day that goes by that I haven’t given my customers my very best customer service. And when I do, I go home at night feeling stronger and more empowered knowing that I was able to help someone, take one of their problems and fix it, put a smile on their face, if only for a minute. I have heard more than once, “Thank You, you’re the only one that has helped me”, or, “I love talking to you, you’re so helpful.” And it doesn’t stop when I leave the office at night. I try my best to give my family and friends the same great customer service that I give all day at work. And why not, aren’t they my customers? Don’t they deserve my best?

Before cell phones and computers, customer service use to be face to face, the local store owners had a relationship with their customers, they knew the people who would be coming into their stores shopping. Most of the people lived in the neighborhood around the stores, so you were always at your best, always had a smile on, always ready to jump in and be helpful. But as stores grew into shopping malls and the neighborhood stores disappeared, we lost touch with what got us there. Instead of being thought of as a friend or good neighbor, you’re now a number, a statistic, something to be rushed thru the process and not valued. Enter today with computer online ordering and you don’t even get to talk to a person. How cold our world has become, and who is there when you have a problem, no one. You have to muddle thru all on your own. Not really even sure if you will ever get a person at the end.

Case in point. I used to order a lot from a certain catalog. One day I ordered a blue, folding wedge pillow, from company x. I received a white, non-folding, small pillow from company y. I called, and after sometime and repeating my name 2 or 3 times and my address for the computer, I finally got to a person. I explained to her why I wanted to return the pillow and had her send me the paper work to be able to send it back (which was suppose to be in the package but wasn’t). That afternoon I took my time to rewrap it and take it to UPS to return it. I wrote on the paper what was wrong, highlighting that it was neither blue, nor folding, or from company x. But I understood things happen, so yes please re-order the blue folding one for me.

I received the same wrong pillow a second time. Mad, but pleasantly, I called once again, explained everything, to the rudest lady I ever talked to, and suggested that the wrong pillow may be in the bin in the warehouse and maybe someone could investigate it, but instead I was accused of ordering the wrong thing, and she hung up on me. I know I told her I did not want another pillow, so I let it go, and thought that was the end of it, until a week or so later when I received the third wrong pillow. They received it back with a very long letter, explaining what customer service is and how they just lost a customer for life.

How hard would it have been to say something like, “I am so sorry your order was wrong, let me see what I can do to fix it.” And then actually have someone fix it, either the product number is wrong or the location in the warehouse is wrong. Why hang up on me? Its not hard to treat each other with respect, fix a problem, make sure things are right, it’s just good customer service.

Imagine if we all started caring a little more, seeing problems to the end, making sure it gets fixed. And let’s not forget how to be good customers too, acknowledging people when you get good service, or someone goes out of their way for you. A simple thank you can go so far in someone’s day. It can make a bad day so much better. And then hopefully they will pass their good mood to the next person and the next and the next and before you know it, we all will be smiling again. Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a wonderful day!

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