Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Happened to Customer Service?

What happened to customer service, more importantly good customer service? This morning on the way into work I had a conversation about Verizon’s customer service. My friend was very upset with how they have been handling her over the years. She was a loyal Blackberry user and she really used the heck out of those BBs. The problem was that batteries didn’t hold a charge. Very odd for a BB –I wish my iPhone held a charge like a BB.

So my friend called Verizon to replace the phone and they gave her the run around. She asks for a manager and is told by the customer service representative that a manager will call her back. The manager never does. My friend calls back and the vicious circle was afoot. Wow!

Once upon a time, I worked for United Airlines and my job was working in huge call center. Whenever we had customers ask for a manager, we had someone to hand them off to. They were known a TSRs or technical service reps –they made a $1 more an hour! Hence you never speak to a real manager!

Now companies make it impossible to reach a live human being. [And] When you do, you may be sorry you did. It seems no one cares, my friend had bouts with Verizon and I had similar experiences with Sprint. I am no longer with Sprint and my friend almost left Verizon –if not for the Droid X. Many of these calls centers are being shut down and moved overseas. Actually all these companies are doing are moving the problem(s).

The problem(s) besides the low pay and irate customers is the management --or lack there of. If the real managers were taking the calls, they would realize the problem. The problem is a lack of motivation, a lack of training, a lack of happiness, the need for empowerment and the list goes on.

Let’s focus on empowerment. Companies want total control of their customers and their employees. Companies need to allow the customer to direct the service (within reason) and empower the employee to serve. We did this at United in the early ‘90s and they were profitable. After a leadership change, all empowerment activities were suspended –now United is hurting. Other factors are contributing to the hurt, however during an economic downturn –every dollar counts.

Customer service is the voice of the company, it is the eyes and ears. Management needs to empower it and to listen to it. If it is outsourced, controlled, or unhelpful –people will go elsewhere.

For a great customer service experience, go to Zappos.com and ask for the best Pizza place near you or anything --they will google it for ya! Also I recommend reading "Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose" it is the Zappos.com story

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