Tuesday, March 19, 2013

customer service, or the lack thereof

I'm a big believer in good customer service.  Wait.  Big really doesn't even begin to cover it.  Huge?  Well, that one might work.  I expect good service, and so should you. 

I never really thought too much about it, but then I began to work in customer service.  The company I work for may not have a sterling reputation among it's workers (let's face it, sometimes they ask a lot of you), but I'm very proud to say that I am part of the reason that the Better Business Bureau ranks my (yes, I know I don't own it) company as having an A- customer satisfaction rating.  That's REALLY good, especially when you consider our main competitor is ranked as having a D- rating. 

I work very hard to make sure that every customer I speak with has a good experience.  And I'm good at it, too;  out of my last 9 QA's, all but 1 of them was scored as a 100, so I know what I'm talking about.  Now, to most people, having a good experience is equal to getting what you want.  Unfortunately, that's not always a reasonable expectation.  There have been many times when I've offered to assist a customer but what they want is just not reasonable for me to provide.  For example, I won't waive your early termination fee 9 months into your 2 year contract just because all of the sudden you don't like the equipment that we provide.  I'm more than happy to work with you to get you different equipment that may work better for you, but if you've let 9 months go by without saying anything, clearly it has not been a big deal.  Just as I strive to give the best service I can, so should everyone else who comes in contact with the public.  You should give me good customer service, just as I would give good service to you if you were to call the company I work for. 

I don't go and do much and am happiest as a homebody, but I do enjoy going out to eat.  This past Saturday morning, my son and I went to IHOP for breakfast.  We have a waitress, Christie, that we love to have serve us - and ask for by name - because she does an excellent job.  She gets our order correct, proactively offers ketchup, hot sauce, hot syrup, etc., and knows when we need a refill without hovering.  She is very AWARE of us as customers.  But, unfortunately, she was ill and not at work on Saturday.  (sigh)  As soon as I discovered that, I should have turned around and left.  But I didn't and we got a waiter by the name of Johnny.

Poor Johnny was not a good waiter.  He was quick enough to come take our order, but had to be asked to bring us our drinks.  That wouldn't have been too bad, but he spent about 5 minutes chatting up one of the waitresses before doing it.  Then, less than 5 minutes after he took our order (but before he brought the drinks), he brought us food that belonged to a different table.  When I told him it wasn't ours, I got told, "I know that!" in a snooty way.  I'm a bit anal about my food, so when I ordered, I made sure to ask for sour cream.  When we got our food, I did not have sour cream and I didn't have the salsa that was supposed to come with the meal.  I had to ask 3 times before I got it.  In addition, we were never offered refills on our drinks.

So, just a little background on how I am...  One of my very first jobs was working as a waitress at Waffle House, a fixture on just about every interstate off ramp in the south.  I worked 3rd shift and dealt with some serious drunks.  But I tried to do a good job under sometimes less than wonderful circumstances.  The point is, I know what it's like to work for tips, and it's not easy, so I will tip you a minimum of 20% if you just do a decent job.  And if you do a really outstanding job, I've been known to tip much more.  I believe in paying for good service and am more than happy to do it.  I want the person who has done a good job for me to know that I appreciate them.  Johnny only got a 15 per cent tip.

Of course, I'll go back to IHOP and have Christie as my waitress and IHOP won't lose me as a customer, but if it were to happen again, I doubt I'd be as forgiving.  Customer service is important.  If you deal with the public, please treat them as you would like to be treated.  That can make all the difference in how you and your company are perceived.

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