Archive for the ‘Customers’ Category

Service of Persistence Pays if You Luck Into an Adolfo Hererra

Monday, January 10th, 2022


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I first wrote about my issues with Verizon Wireless November, 2021 in “Service of Automation Hiccups.” I’d been unable to get credit for the paperless option I’d agreed to in spite of countless calls to customer service.  On one call I agreed to change the account from my deceased husband’s name to mine.

With that my FIOS bundle–phone, Wi-Fi and cable–increased by $400+/year and I’d not been warned this would happen.

A strident conversation with a nasty customer service person who told me I’d committed fraud by keeping the account in Homer’s name increased my irritation and disenchantment. She hit the ceiling when I said I felt bamboozled and explained I hadn’t been but that I wasn’t eligible for the discounts he had. When I was explaining the situation she said in a voice filled with sarcasm, “Are you through?”

That’s when I wrote Ronan Dunne, executive VP and group CEO of Verizon Consumer. I wrote that to take away discounts given a man because a woman was now the customer was sexist. My credit is excellent, we had been decades-long customers, have other Verizon accounts and pointed out that it was my checks paying for the bundle from the get-go. Nothing changed but the first name.



Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  

Soon after I heard from Adolfo Hererra, a member of the Verizon executive relations team. He was thorough and polite and he listened. He warned me of some things that might happen although he did what he could to avert them. For example, auto pay took money to satisfy Homer’s cancelled account and a few days later took money for my new one.

Throughout the process I knew I was in good hands. Hererra always called when he said he would and he returned my calls promptly.

In the end, he gave me a credit of $50 because of the time it took to sort out the tangle. With a company as big as Verizon I suspect he and his team had to knock on many doors, starting with the one to initiate the elusive discount for the paperless option. I’d agreed to it in August 2021 and it will kick in January or February 2022. Only when he was certain that I’d be receiving the discount for going paperless–he’d said he could confirm this in early January–would he close the case. We spoke last week right on schedule. He assured me that I’d get the discount. He also securely closed Homer’s account and sent a debit card to refund the money that shouldn’t have been taken to begin with.

He feels pleased when he brings down an unsatisfied customer from a ledge of anger and frustration. Thank goodness for dedicated customer service employees like Adolfo Hererra.

Can you share a recent example of top of the line customer service in an era of rampant neglected emails and phone messages and often pleasant sounding customer service people who say they will do something and they don’t?


Image by Magic Creative from Pixabay

Service of Biting Your Tongue and Keeping Your Cool

Monday, October 11th, 2021



Image by kaleido-dp from Pixabay

Some feel that because they pay for a service or a purchase they can treat the vendor or salesperson with disrespect. I wonder how retail business owners remain sane and silent when they inevitably deal with at least one entitled, nasty, thoughtless customer/client every so often.

Here’s one: A customer flounced into a hair salon last week, marched over to the chair I was in and said to the stylist, who was in the middle of touching up my color: “I’m in a rush. I can’t be away from my office for long. My boss doesn’t want me to leave. I’ll have to reschedule unless you can you take me NOW.” [Note: She didn’t greet the stylist who also owns the salon.] Did she expect her to kick me out of the chair with half a job done, a procedure that involves timing? The stylist responded, as she continued to work on my hair, and had to repeat, because of the bombardment of the same question, “in five minutes,” as the woman paced nearby. The stylist remained cool.


Image by petitcarre from Pixabay

When suddenly the customer dashed outside to place a call I said “she is a bit much.” The beleaguered salon owner told me about a longtime client who consistently blows off three hour appointments or arrives an hour late without a peep of update. Clearing the decks for that long for a no-show represents a significant financial loss. The customer, who always confirms the appointment the night before, didn’t show twice in a row and never apologized. The last time the woman arrived at 7 pm for a 6 pm appointment at 8 pm she declared she was hungry. The stylist asked her to please call and order in to save time and she refused and left the shop, oblivious of the late hour and the staff waiting for her return to complete the work.

In another example, the owner of an antique shop in New England that specializes in small collectibles shared some recent confrontations. A woman recently looked around and announced, “Nobody wants these things anymore.” Rude? [Shortly thereafter the dealer made a several hundred dollar sale.] Another visitor started taking photos of some high-end greeting cards with clever sayings to text them to friends rather than buy [and mail] them. The dealer asked that clueless person to stop.

In the same vein, seven years ago I wrote “Service of Being a Good Customer.” I asked then and reiterate: “Have you been in the enviable position of being able to give a nasty client/customer short shrift? Do you think pushy, entitled, aggressive behavior wins in the end?”

Were you faced with thoughtless, rude or hostile conduct, how would you control your irritation so as to keep your cool and not snap back? What responsibilities do customers have to the good businesses they support?



Image by Rose McAvoy from Pixabay

Service of Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Someone else's shoes

In one day two things happened that made me wonder about customer service programs that don’t take into consideration routine customer habits.

Pennies Wise

Does the person who configures the electronic customer service systems for large corporations think about where people might be and what information they’d have access to when they call to request a repair? Not everyone is at the office or at home with a file cabinet filled with past bills handy.

During an ice storm our phone at the house went dead. When, the next day, we could get out and into ice stormthe car by treading carefully on a glossy rink on flagstones worthy of Rockefeller Center, successfully coaxing the car up an icy driveway slope to the road, we were able to call Verizon to report the problem by mobile phone. [Verizon cell phones don’t work at the house so we drove to a place they do.]

Before we could speak with a person—I began slamming 0000000 to get out of the computer voice maze that wasn’t in the slightest advancing the cause to repair my dead phone—the irritating recorded voice asked for our account number. I didn’t have it with me. Next it asked for the amount of the last bill. I hadn’t memorized this either.

First petDoes the person who set up the system, meant to reduce live staff time, commit such info to memory? What happened to “what’s the name of your first pet?” or “your mother’s maiden name?”

I was fuming as I waited to speak with a customer service representative. The call should have taken a second and I’d already been on hold for 600. I was, after all, reporting that the service wasn’t working. So was this the best time to alert me that the rep might tell me about additional services?

I explained to the live person–who may have been sitting in sunny Florida and unaware of icy conditions in upstate NY–that the outage clearly was weather-related and nothing to do with “our equipment” and she insisted that someone be home for a technician to come to the house. So I made an appointment.

Meanwhile, I called the house and heard a constant busy signal for a few more hours. Finally the phone rang and our answering machine kicked in. Hooray! A working phone.

When I called to cancel the appointment I did it through the voicemail system. The only question the recorded voice asked was why I’d cancelled: “Was your equipment the reason for the failure?” I hollered “NO.” There were no options such as “The phone works now.”

Much Ado About My Package

USPSI asked Amazon.com to send an order to my office. On Sunday I received a notification that the USPS had tried to deliver it on Saturday and nobody was there to sign for it. On Saturday the USPS doesn’t send mail to any office in this 18-floor midtown Manhattan building—so why would it send a package?

I clicked the link in the notification to fill out the info needed to get someone to redeliver the package and after doing that I clicked something else on the form where I learned that the USPS doesn’t redeliver to this building.

post office at grand centralThe next morning I visited our 10017 post office, a big one next to Grand Central Station, on 44th and Lexington Avenue. A helpful postal worker punched in the 17 tracking numbers in a computer on the floor and said, “It’s at 10022.” I asked for the address of that post office. “You can’t go there—it’s not open to the public.” I told him that it says on line that the USPS won’t redeliver to 228 East 45th Street. He said, “Wait. There’s nothing you can do but wait.” So I did. And after all of that, the package arrived with the mail the next business day.

Technology without thought doesn’t save staff time and it doesn’t help customers.

How can a company like Verizon that handles incredible amounts of technology accept a  customer service telephone application that is customer tone deaf and doesn’t free up its live staff? What was the point of the misleading USPS online information and links other than to cause me to waste time?

tone deaf

Service of Being a Good Customer

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Demanding customer 3

I imagine that pushy, over demanding customers think that this is the only way to get the best service. The obnoxious approach might work on the spot at retail or in a restaurant because sales and restaurant staff want to avoid a noisy tantrum that would make other customers uncomfortable and spoil their experience.

Demanding customer 2Be ugly enough and the sales person might remember you and see that you wait next time or disappear in the storage room as you approach. The busy restaurant may have a waiting period of an hour for the loudmouth; ten minutes for everyone else.

We’ve all known—or observed–people who feel that they can treat another person abominably because they are paying for a service or because they think that they are important and deserve subservience. In a conversation about such people a friend, with a topnotch reputation in a technical field, said that she wouldn’t stay a half hour overtime for a nasty client even if her boss agreed to pay her a substantial sum. At the same time, she’d stay even longer for a lovely person, even if the boss said that there couldn’t be an extra cent in it for her because he wasn’t charging the customer for overtime, because she was down on her luck.

Demanding customer 1Have you been in the enviable position of being able to give a nasty client/customer short shrift? Do you think pushy, entitled, aggressive behavior wins in the end?

answer is no

Service of Gagging Customers

Monday, May 7th, 2012

gag-rules

In radio discussions after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, I heard someone say that you sign away your rights to sue when you take a cruise.

That’s not the only place a customer can lose his/her traditional rights.

According to Christopher Elliot, whom Arthur and Pauline Frommer interviewed on their Sunday radio travel show a few weeks ago, there’s a creeping trend in the vacation rental property business to require clients to sign non disparagement clauses. Break the agreement and you’ll be fined.

Arthur Frommer said that he feared the custom would leak into the hotel industry as well. And doctors have begun to ask patients to sign such forms, according to Elliot.

vacation-rentalsIn his post about vacation rental gag agreements, Elliot illustrated what happens with the Darows’ experience. They wrote a negative online review about their Scottsdale, Ariz. vacation rental that cost $3,500 for five nights. A letter from the rental agency which Elliot quoted went as follows: “It has come to our attention that you have written an unauthorized review regarding your stay at a home managed by Progressive Management Concepts,” it said. “If this review is published by VRBO.com, you will be in violation of the confidentiality clause of the rental contract you agreed to when you made your reservation.”

500Indeed, Tom Darow had signed a form that stipulated not to “discuss or disclose the occupancy of the subject property with any entity not bound by the terms of this agreement without the expressed written authorization of the homeowner and the property agent representing the homeowner.” The price of doing so: $500-precisely the amount that appeared on the Darow credit card. Eventually, the Darows removed their review from VRBO.com and got their $500 back–plus a $200 refund.

Wrote Elliot: “The vacation rental industry may be warming to rental contracts such as Progressive’s. Several property owners echoed the sentiments of [Chris] Barski, [Progressive’s attorney] saying that non-disparagement language is the only way owners can protect themselves from negative reviews. ‘Just a small comment can slide a slight negative sentiment to a disaster like, ‘Avoid this house,’ and boom! You could lose everything and go into foreclosure, simply because of that one review,’ says Ken Silverman, a principal for a land development company based in New York who owns a vacation rental property at a New Hampshire ski resort. ‘It would have to be offset by tens or hundreds of positives to not make a difference.'”

And Elliot opened the discussion to cover user-generated reviews, many of them faked and inappropriately glowing to make a property [or a product, book, experience-you name it]-appear better than it is.

He also provided a good reason for a property manager to ask to approve a review-because the writer might disclose information that might “make the rental unit vulnerable to theft,” such as a lock combination or street address.

The solution is simple: Before signing, read the small print. And before agreeing to a vacation rental property, find out whom you can call on the spot if something isn’t right. Call them in advance to make sure they’ll be there when you are coming, so if something happens, you’ll know what to do. The idea is to have zero reason to complain afterwards.

Do you know of other instances where customers can’t share their displeasure publicly without incurring fines or where their rights are restrained in other ways?

read-small-print

Service of Annoying Customers

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

annoying

I was in line at Sam’s coffee cart on 44th and Third Avenue and the man ordering his Joe ahead of me was the kind of customer who’d drive me nuts. It’s not that he wanted anything exotic. But I could tell that he was someone I’d never want to share a restaurant meal with-or to serve.

He asked for two Splendas in a medium size decaf and a large coffee with skim and three sugars, and then he changed his mind on size or sweetener and….Sam was his usual cool, calm, pleasant self and didn’t skip a beat. [This eavesdropper was ready to scream.]

ordering-foodI’ve eaten with people who have nary an allergy but want to know every ingredient in each of six dishes before they will commit to a main course. Three minutes after they’ve ordered they wave wildly for the waiter because they’ve changed their mind.

And it’s not just the questions that get me, because maybe the person loves to cook and is curious about how the chef prepares short ribs; it’s the selfish demand for attention and time without regard to companions who might have places to go and customers at other tables who need wine, water or song.

Most of the posts on this blog are written from the customer’s viewpoint. What do your friends, colleagues and strangers do to aggravate staffers in retail or food businesses? If you’ve had one of those jobs, how do you handle these annoying types or don’t they bother you?

whining1

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