Saturday, November 14, 2009

Customer Service

Customer Service. The term has become somewhat of an oxymoron, like "Military Intelligence" or "boneless ribs".

Some businesses just don't get it, or more likely, figure there's little you will do after you voice your displeasure. We've all gone through "voicemail" hell just to speak with an actual human being. I don't bother listening to the menu any longer, I just pound on the "O" key until I get someone to answer. This way, I feel like I'm venting while exercising my index finger. My middle finger seems to be overworked these days.

Typically, after waiting 30 minutes before trying to explain the problem to customer service, the agent will put me on hold for another 15 minutes and then wrap up the conversation with a "thank you for calling" and ask "is there's anything else I can do"? I'll usually respond with a simple "thanks for your help". I'm told "no problem and have a nice day". I don't let them get away with that. I've spent 45 minutes on the phone because their company screwed something up; it IS a problem.

My wife goes nuts when a waiter says "no problem" when we ask for water, or an extra napkin. I don't blame her. I would hope it isn't a problem, I think it's their job. Last night, we joined our good friends and neighbors for dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant. Our friends ordered frozen margaritas. They got a melted down slushy. My friend showed the waitress the watery concoction and she offered to bring another. "Sure, if they're frozen", replied my friend. The waitress dutifully trudged to the bar and returned empty handed. "I'm sorry, they just started a new batch and they aren't very frozen". Then, she asked if he wanted a margarita on the rocks. "No," said my friend, "I'd like it frozen". The waitress replied with a "sorry 'bout that" and went on with her duties. She couldn't have been too sorry, she charged him for both watered down drinks. I'm willing to bet the manager of the restaurant would have removed the drinks from the bill; but the waitress who comes into the most contact with clients either didn't have the authority or the wits to figure out the proper solution. Think my friend will return to the restaurant soon? They lost a customer over a a $4.95 house margarita. Silly. No, stupid.

On the other side of the story, my wife gave me a gift last March for our anniversary. A beautiful desk clock set in a wooden box with a compass. Why, I don't know, but when I reset the clock back an hour for standard time, the clock died. A new battery didn't solve the situation. So, I went to the store where she bought the clock, Ann's Fine Gifts in Houston, and asked if I could order a replacement for the clock insert. They wouldn't think of it. Nope, they came out and replaced the entire mechanism and sent me on my way. How much goodwill did that gesture create? While I can't yet put a dollar figure to that thought, I will tell you Ann's is where I'll be doing the majority of my Christmas shopping this year.

Customer Service. Ann's has proven it' s not an oxymoron. Apparently, at this store, it's a policy. And the restaurant? Well, let's just say it's something to "Chuy" on for a while.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]