So many customer service failures could be solved with the tiniest effort on the part of companies’ reps. For example…
… consider my interaction today – which is Sunday – with Comcast telephone/internet/tv service. I was on a quest to compare pricing packages, to lower my mother’s bill, considering her current plan doesn’t even include DVR functions. So I went to the page, punched in her address, and started looking at options. After staring at the confusing puzzle of options, a welcomed chat-screen popped up. It started off well:
|Chris: Hi, I’m a live Comcast product specialist. Would you like my help checking out?|
|Chris: Just type your question below.|
|You: I’m trying to find an alternative package for my mother’s bill|
|You: $130/month is too much|
|You: and she doesn’t need phone service really|
|You: her $130 month doesn’t even include DVR functions, either which is really really disappointing|
|Chris: I understand that you’re mother is looking to reduce cost and would want to save as much as possible. To discuss lower priced options, please call our Customer Service Team at 1-800-COMCAST (1-800-266-2278) for more information. They will be able to access her account information and see what options are available to her as well.|
|You: ok, i will do that|
|Chris: You’re always welcome.|
|Chris: Is there anything else I can help you with today before you call in?
At this point, I had picked up the telephone and dialed Comcast’s customer service line.
After punching in my phone number, I had to navigate about seven layers of auto-attendant to get to “if you want to add or remove services to your service, press 1″…. which I did, and got…”This department is not open at this time. Please try us again, when this department is open.” Yup.
So I returned to the chat room and typed:
|You: I just tried to call them and it said they were “not open at this time”|
|Chris: Our Customer Service team is available Monday through Saturday, 8 AM to 7 PM.|
|You: oh, ok; well you might have mentioned that before I pressed a dozen auto-attendant options… I’ll call them tomorrow|
Alas, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customer service failures at companies big and small. Yet it confirms something I’ve long suspected: Companies aren’t losing customers to competitors: They are losing business to themselves. How hard would it have been for the chat-room rep to have included the hours of operation into the obviously cut-and-pasted blurb he originally posted? It’s another example of how customer service “rep” means repeat not representative these days.
If it’s not on the flash-card or flow-chart, it doesn’t get thought.
Who needs competitors – foreign or domestic – when over and over again we see companies blowing their own relationships with customers? It’s not a loyalty problem, or an internet-gives-us-choices problem, when the little things are omitted when providing customers service guidance. Don’t blame outsourcing, either, because the problem isn’t a poorly trained or ill-educated chat room rep: It’s a management problem, stemming from a philosophy that customer service calls are expenses, not opportunities.
Whether it’s the cashier at the big-box store who doesn’t say thank you, or the online chat-room operator who can’t think ahead enough to include important information, today’s companies continue to treat their most valuable moments – customer interaction moments – with disdain. They aren’t being beat by their competitors lower pricing or better marketing: They’re losing the game to themselves.