Have you ever cringed at hold music, lost track of which option you were supposed to select in the 3rd tier of the company IVR or wish that you could make the bagger at the supermarket disappear so you could just do it yourself? Whether via phone, e-mail or in person, there are many places during an exchange where the experience can go wrong.
Have you ever called into a customer service number looking for assistance wanting to speak with a live person? And were you able to reach this person? After how long on hold? And was this person capable of helping you without transferring you to another person or putting you on hold to speak with another staff member? For many of us, the answer to the questions above is no. Being on hold or being transferred one or multiple times is one of the most frustrating parts of the customer service experience.
Once you have reached this person on the phone and they have done their standard welcome greeting, do you find it impossible to direct your thoughts away from the fact that they are still reading scripted responses? Now, it is understandable that there are standards by which call centers are measured. A proper “Hello, thank you for calling X Company, my name is XX” with a closing of “Thank you for calling X Company, Goodbye.” Having the entire conversation feel like a scripted call is a bit too much.
Do you find it flattering or annoying to have someone on the phone repeat your name over and over to you? Many customer service centers say that this provides a more personal experience. For many, this actually makes the experience feel quite impersonal.
Instead of a phone transaction, lets move to a retail store. When a sales person hands a credit or debit card back to you, do you feel a personal connection when they say “Thank you Mrs. X?” Do you still feel this connection if they mispronounce your name? Customer Service.
When you approach the counter to purchase an item in a retail store, have you ever felt that you were imposing on the cashier to actually ring up your purchase? That moment when you only have one or two items and you happen to approach the counter when the cashiers were clearly having a personal conversation. Have you ever had to say excuse me to get their attention and then receive a tone or a look to indicate that you clearly were interrupting? Customer Service.
Have you ever been waiting in line, only to finally get to the counter to have the cashier answer the ringing phone? Have you then been lucky enough to wait several minutes while the cashier assists the person on the other end with how to complete an online order, while you are in person, in there store, waiting to cash out? Did you end up feeling that you wished you had placed an order online so that you too would have had a better experience? Customer Service.
With the retail world being available online and in stores, sometimes it is more convenient to shop online. But what if you have a question? E-mailing support can certainly be an adventure as well. Sometimes an answer that is useful might actually be returned, but quite frequently the response received is directing you to contact the 800 Support number for assistance. Again, customer service at it’s best. Thank goodness you waited 24-48 hours to be told to call the 800 number on the website.
It is true that some companies have very good customer service and there are people who take pride in their work and make a sincere effort to help. Unfortunately, there are many negative customer service encounters that tend to overshadow the good experiences. Companies, such as Zappos, have modeled their entire business concept to having the best customer service and to try to help change the image of customer service. It’s a slow process, but it’s a start.