Friday, October 13, 2006

New-Style Customer Service

I believe the whole concept of customer service should be turned on it’s head. The customer is NOT always right, the customer is RARELY deserving of respect, the customer should be corrected and set on the right path, the customer should be told the WHOLE TRUTH. This would mean that if somebody started telling their life story, I could ask them to simply get to the point. If somebody complains at something unworthy of complaint, I could tell them I don’t care. If somebody is rude I could point that out to them, or be rude back at them.

As things stand, customers have all the rights and customer service staff have none. Customer service staff are the important ones: without us how would you communicate with your bank, your phone provider, your electricity services? How would you do your grocery shopping or buy clothes? Yet customers seem to feel that they can speak rudely to us, insult us, and irritate us – and get off scot-free! They regard us as dispensable, and themselves as invincible. They think they are speaking to a nameless, faceless, automated representative of a company; in fact they are talking to a person with a personality and feelings and thoughts, a person who could, if properly treated, go above and beyond the call of duty for their customer. Customer service staff have power, contacts, knowledge – but will only utilise these if spoken to with the respect due to them.

Situation A: Customer calls, introduces herself by name and business, asks how I am. Listens to my response, has a quick laugh, then states that she’d like to place an order. Tells me what she wants, confirms it’s all in stock, thanks me, and hangs up. Both she and I have just had an enjoyable experience, with minimum trouble or inconvenience.

Situation B: Customer calls, is carrying on another conversation in the background, keeps me waiting, then mumbles that she wants X metres of such-and-such fabric, and almost hangs up without telling me who she actually is. She has taken longer than necessary due to her poor organisation and communication, and she obviously regarded the call as a necessary nuisance rather than a chance to communicate with an individual for mutual benefit.

Now, Situation B is not a customer who is overtly or deliberately rude, but it is a situation I come across on a daily (or even half-hourly) basis. There are customers worse than Situation B, by far. WHY?!?!


lee said...

This kind of thing must drive you absolutely mad - I'd want to kill people!

Stace said...

Oh, I do. Frequently. I indulge in little fantasies about visiting their places of work with a baseball bat.