What has happened to Customer Service?
It’s time for another of Voss Graham’s Rants or as I like to think about them – Doing Things Right Rants. This time it is focused upon Customer Service or the lack of it from people and companies. While over the past couple of weeks since my last rant, I have witnessed several customer service or just customer related neglect that I want to use to as examples of customer abuse.
First, the case of the unbearable noise factor. I stopped into a McDonald’s one night to grab a quick meal. Once inside (yes, I should have gone to the drive in) I was overwhelmed by buzzers and attention drawing noise (except for the individuals’ responsible for turning them off!). The whole scene reminded me of the casinos with their bells and horns blaring 24 hours a day. Yet, as I looked around at the staff, they appeared to be deaf or conditioned to ignore these spine shaking noises.
I asked the lady at the counter why they didn’t respond to the alarms, and she smiled as she stated she had been listening to them all day and learned to ignore them. So I got my food and set at a table. I asked a couple of people if the noises bothered them and they said yes.
Then it got interesting as the manager ventured out from the back and I asked him about the noise – by this time it was getting ridiculous inside the building. His response was somewhat expected as I had seen him standing next to the screaming alarm on several occasions without taking action. So it was no surprise that he basically ignored my request for a quicker response for the benefit of customers who would enjoy a “quiet meal” rather than a casino ear bleed.
Okay, let’s look a little deeper into this situation. First, while I believe there should have been some type of positive action by the manager to the benefit of his customers, he really has a system issue. The fast food industry came of age during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when the economy was growing and people were hired to work in larger numbers. I remember the old days when the local McDonald’s was hot, people would be lined up at the counter and a large herd of people were behind the counter serving the customers. In fact, there were people who only worked the French Fryers and they had their hands full. The buzzers would sound off once and were turned off.
Today, one person works the drive through, one person works the counter and one cook is working hard in the back. The manager is standing around doing nothing that I can see. And, the buzzers and alarms are blaring away with no one responsible for turning them off. Interesting! The system was designed for a larger number of people – yet, the trend is to cut people and leave the system or process the same. It appears both the customer and the staff are losing and no one seems to care!
The second major customer service mistake concerns an internet service known as 1 shopping cart. Now this is the 800 lb. gorilla in the shopping cart internet world. They charge their customers a handsome fee for the right to use their system. Now, I happen to be one of those customers and I’m wondering why am I?
Here’s the issue. Now this service company charges a premium price for their service. It is not a major annual expense for a user to bear, so, I happily pay the bill due to the quality of their service and little down time. Until recently, as they have increased the number of scheduled downtimes basically shutting down my online store. But that is not the problem, the problem is they are holding me up for timely customer service.
Seems one of the “bright” bean counters decided that they should charge a significant fee (more than a $ 1 per day – every day.) for the right to get immediate or same day service if you have a problem with their service. What an idea! Charge the customer more money to be able to fix a problem the same day it happens rather than waiting 3 days for a solution. It seems Fair Play has left the building along with Elvis.
I have always felt that when customers have an issue or problem with your service that attention should be directed at fixing it immediately – no questions if you want or value customer satisfaction. In case someone out there is reading this and does not understanding the link between customer satisfaction and your business – let me explain the relationship. When customers are satisfied and happy with your service, they do not entertain thoughts of moving their business somewhere else. However, when they become dissatisfied they not only entertain such thoughts, they look for new providers.
It is time to look at your own customer service levels. What are you doing to insure that your customers are happy and satisfied? Holding them hostage for important services just to drive your top line during a recession is just plain greedy and will cost you in the long run. As it will become harder to keep your customer base.
Okay, that’s it for my Doing Things Right rant. Have a great weekend.
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