Friday, November 2, 2012

Customer Service

     Customer service is supposed to be about making sure that the customer feels good about purchasing a service or product, but in recent years the quality has been steadily declining. Between agents who either don't speak or comprehend English and annoying automated systems the customer service of late even can be downright frustrating. Today I spoke with two companies' customer service departments and the difference couldn't have been clearer. One company did their job to PERFECTION, while the other gave me a HEADACHE. Here are today's experiences:


Company: Virgin Mobile.
    1st call...I called Virgin Mobile from a customer service number I got off their website to get my new phone activated and run into problems from the start. They start their customer service off by making you go through an automated system that ignores your selections. When I say "Customer service", I want customer service, not for the automated system to reply "OK, but maybe I can help" and then repeat the same options again. Then, after saying customer service a couple more times it gets the hint and says it'll be a 5 min. wait. So I wait. After a few minutes the person who answers tells me she has to transfer me to another department, so I wait some more. When the next person finally answer guess who it is...If you answered Apu from the local Kwik E Mart, then your right! So Apu says his name is Adam, (which is close to Apu, but I'm not buying it), and asks for my name, phone number and zip code. I give it to him and he confuses them right away. He mixes the numbers together and I tell his the numbers twice more. After he gets them wrong the third time I told him to let me speak to someone else, which he ignores and asks why. I explain that he obviously doesn't comprehend English and ask for a supervisor or another customer service rep., he begins to argue with me over the language he is speaking. After my requests get ignored twice more for another person I promptly hand up and reach for a cigarette.
    2nd call...After I gathered myself I called back and waded through the automated part. I go through the first person and get transferred. This time I get Susie (again I'm not buying the name) in what I am assuming is Taiwan. She is nice and understands English, but tells me that I will have to call back from my home phone to be helped. After some discussion I get her to just tell me what to do, which SEEMED simple enough not to warrant a future phone call. Boy, was I wrong!
    3rd call...OK, so the directions I got from Susie didn't work so I had to call back. Automated part, check. Transfer, check. This time I get Brian, who has a Southern drawl. We go over the instructions that Susie gave me, which I did correctly, and he says "OK, just a minute". He comes back momentarily and tells me that there was a block on the number and that he removed it, and VIOLA! FINALLY! Now to look up the number for my second call...


    1st call...When looking up the customer service number to call about a problem connecting by bank account I noticed that they had a button that allowed them to call me. Well, it was midnight so I didn't think they would call until the morning but I clicked it anyway. I got a phone call from James in Washington (thanks caller ID!) not two minutes later. I explained the issue to him and after giving my information he said to hold a moment. When he  returned seconds later he happily replied that he had fixed the issue and that I was good to go! WOW. The ENTIRE process, from the time I looked up the number, to the time the problem was fixed, was less than ten minutes. Customer service done right, thanks Amazon!

     When all is said and done customer service is all about resolving the customer's concerns as quickly and conveniently as possible. When it is done correctly the consumer will be left with a positive feeling about their choice to continue dealings with the company, which is the ultimate goal. When done incorrectly, the customers disappear.  Customer service needs to shy away from complicated and lengthy automated programs and get back to people. It also really helps to have friendly agents who connect culturally with the customer, too.

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