Archive for the ‘Customer Care’ Category

Service of Auctions: Charitybuzz Says A Lot

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Auction

You don’t need to have skin in the game to find the sport of following auction sales thrilling; though to covet something and watch what happens to its price is exhilarating and nail-biting. Look at EBay’s success.

I wanted you to know about another online auction—Charitybuzz–that I became charitybuzz try thisintimately familiar with as part of a New York Women in Communications [NYWICI] Foundation committee to grow the scholarship fund. Charitybuzz is a brilliant business concept providing a seamless way to raise money for nonprofit organizations around the world from the African Rainforest Conservancy to the Zimmer Children’s Museum. The lots generally offer experiences rather than objects.

The partnership with NYWICI works well as the organization knows industry personalities–broadcast celebrities, editors in chief, CEOs of international marketing/advertising/PR agencies and cutting edge corporations for example—who generously give of their time. Wealthy bidders fly thousands of miles–and pay–to meet a star or business guru over lunch, breakfast or coffee for an hour or two or to give their son or daughter the experience of counsel from the C-Suite in their offspring’s dream industry. One of the lot headlines offers to “Jump Start Your Career With a Summer Job at Publicis Worldwide North America.” A gift for the woman who has everything is a ticket to the Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year event. You have until May 5th to bid on the lots in the NYWICI Foundation auction.

NYWICI Foundation logoLast year this committee made $80,000 for the scholarship fund, after Charitybuzz took its percentage. It earns every cent. The staff introduced us to some top lots; kept meticulous records from past and current auctions to save us time; informed the 100,000 high net worth bidders in its database about our auction and continues to promote it—and that’s just for starters. Our contact was Logan Holzman, auction specialist, who is smart, responsive, and incredibly quick. She’s an unmatched multitasker and has a great sense of humor. We tossed hundreds of balls at her with hard deadlines looming and she didn’t drop one.

farm auction 1The first auctions I ever attended were on the prairies of North Dakota where it didn’t take long for me to learn that the fellows in overalls, when overalls weren’t fashionable, were millionaire farmers. I was an apprentice to a secondhand furniture dealer who took me with him to find the pieces he’d refinish and sell. There were no TJ Maxx stores at the time. The cheapest new furniture available was badly made, ugly and overpriced. Newly married with no budget for furniture, the solid oak chairs and tables were a good option. I left behind the last of my North Dakota Farmhouse Collection—the 50 cent chair–on a move two months ago. That name for the chair was a misnomer if you add the cost of the stain, sandpaper, steel wool and sweat applied to spruce it up.

Sotheby's auctionWhen I was an editor at Art & Antiques Magazine I went to countless auction previews and for years haunted auction house exhibits to see remarkable art and furniture destined for private hands. Along the way I’ve also bought art and antiques at my share of auctions—both silent and standard.

The first auction item I bid on and wanted so badly to own–but that got away–was a pew from an old church that looked a little like the one in the photo below. I also remember buying some amazing bargains and incredible furniture and accessories. How about you?  Have you followed, participated in or attended a thrilling auction?

The "fish" that got away.

The “fish” that got away.

 

Service of One More to Sell

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Empty store shelves

The formula used to hold that a retail store would be better off tossing out an item than turning away a single customer because it had run out. Retailers were also advised to keep shelves full otherwise customers lost confidence if there were large gaps where merchandise used to be.

I went to a major office supply store to buy a printer cartridge today and while I was there asked for a multiple power strip. The enthusiastic and helpful young salesman first checked that I hadn’t missed any—the shelves were indeed empty—and he immediately called a colleague in the storage area.

Empty store shelves 2The store, that has countless laptops, tablets, computers and other devices that might need to be plugged in or charged at one or another time didn’t have a single power strip at any price. I then remembered that the last time I was there the store had run out of the Cannon cartridge I needed. On my way home that night I found one at another store.

So I wasn’t surprised by the quarterly earnings report for this chain. According to Drew FitzGerald and Chelsey Dulaney of The Wall Street Journal, the chain “reported another quarter of declining sales and dwindling store traffic, deepening the retailer’s challenges…..” That makes 11 such quarters. If they don’t have it I can’t buy it.

Yesterday I went to a drug store chain on 42nd street and Third Avenue at 3 pm—it’s open 24/7–and took the last of a popular item. The next customer looking for it will leave empty handed.

purchase by date on milkThere’s a gas station in upstate New York near the railroad station. On my way to the house on a Friday night I often drop in to buy milk but try not to. Why? For one thing they don’t sell fat free milk so I live with 1%. Worse: The “purchase by” date has either expired or is about to—and I’ve told them. I am better off buying milk at a grocery store the Sunday before and leaving it in the fridge as it’s still fresher than what I’d buy at the station five days later. [The local grocery store in the town closed a few months ago.]

Imagine what the rent for retail is in midtown Manhattan and what it costs to run a busy gas station. The irony is that the latter company started in the milk business!

Do people no longer pay attention to “purchase by” dates on food? Do you think that businesses are trying to keep inventory so lean that the old retail models no longer apply? Perhaps they think that you could use the Internet as backup, but if you need a printer cartridge, milk or OTC pharmacy item right away, in addition to the outrageous cost of shipping, what good is next day delivery?

 I want it now

Service of the [Very] Good, the [Extremely] Bad and the Ugly: A Real Estate Tale

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

real estate

We recently worked with two New York City-based real estate agents. Rating their performances from one to 10 they represented the top and bottom of the spectrum. One agent, Linda Gawley, Managing Director, Charles H. Greenthal Management & Residential Sales, spent hours mopping up the mess left by the other who was careless and disrespectful of both our agent’s time and of us.

Her aggressive lack of participation was clearly a cause for kudos by the agency she works for. Make money by doing and spending nothing? Congrats! That’s the crystal message we got from the executive at the major New York real estate company who responded to our complaint letter.

Do nothing and get paidIn our letter we asked that this agency refund the fee. We heard that it’s not a practice for one agency to pay another in such an instance so we offered the option to return the money to us. Their answer: “No.”

The agent lived in her client’s condo apartment and was leaving. We wanted to sublet it and to do so we needed approval of the apartment owner and the building’s board of directors. Following is an abbreviated list of her elementary mistakes that jeopardized our move-in date and caused us inordinate stress.

Our agent remained calm and courteous even when snapped at. We knew something was up when Ms. Gawley questioned the spelling of the apartment owner’s name on the lease. It was an unusual interpretation of a French name. [My father was French so I noticed it.] “It’s correct,” barked Ms. ___ during a conference call we were in on. In fact, it was incorrect, so our certified deposit checks were inaccurate as well. This kind of sloppiness followed and tripped us up throughout the process.

The  apartment’s owner–Ms. ____’s client–wanted to meet us across the street from her office/apartment. She wasn’t free so Ms. Gawley squeezed in the appointment to her schedule. Ms. ___ had not given her client a copy of the lease we signed nor had she warned Ms. Gawley to bring one so when he asked for one, Ms. Gawley appeared unprepared—something she never is.

Because of delays caused by Ms. ___’s carelessness on February 1 we did not know whether we would have access to the apartment or if we had been approved by the building’s board of directors and therefore, whether the movers would be allowed in the building on Monday February 2.

Our board package was not submitted promptly because Ms. ___ hadn’t counseled her client to sign either the standard lead paint or child guard disclosure forms, discovered at the final hour. In the response, the real estate executive did not refer to this glitch.

She brought up another one. She wrote: “Unfortunately, we sleeping at desk 2encountered a big snag at this point which caused us a delay. Upon review, the managing agent discovered that the owner of the apartment was not carrying the proper insurance. This is highly unusual, because it’s imperative for all owners to have valid insurance at all times, so of course it was completely unknown to Ms. ____. This is the purview of the managing agent, not the listing agent, and it would not be in Ms. ___’ typical scope to verify the insurance.” I underlined the words “typical scope” because I thought they were clever. What is her scope? How seasoned an agent was she?  Since she lived in the same place for a period of time, was she there legally?

We wanted to know where we would be living in the city [our weekend home requires a five hour commute round trip] but that was only the half of it. Should we cancel the movers [who had already stored our belongings for a week] and Verizon/Fios, which we ordered for move-in day so we might be connected to the world? What about business appointments  later that week–would we be free to make them or would we be waiting for the movers?

In the agency’s response, the executive wrote: “On the 30th, Ms. ____ received verbal confirmation from the Board President that the waiver had been signed, which she immediately relayed to your agent.  Did your agent not relay that information to you?”

Given Ms. ____’s slipshod track record, and the fact that the building’s managing agent couldn’t verify the information, Ms. Gawley wasn’t about to suggest that our movers park outside the building first thing Monday February 2 until she knew for sure they would be allowed in. She asked that we delay the movers to Monday afternoon. They lost a morning of work and had to leave [house rules] before they were done. When the Fios technician came he didn’t have our computer, phones and TV to connect them causing costly repercussions for us.

411 sink Feb 1“Broom clean,” was not the way Ms. ___ left the apartment. Illustrative of her modus operandi see the photos at right and below left of just some of the things we found. They don’t capture the dirty towel on the bathroom floor and filled coffee cups and water bottles. In her letter the executive wrote, “she apologizes that her movers left a few items behind.” 

Ms. ____ had told us she was moving a few blocks away as well as to Connecticut but obviously didn’t relay the former info to her employer who claimed that from Connecticut she couldn’t have conveniently checked how the movers left the apartment. Funny: We’d just moved out of a city apartment followed by a two hour drive upstate in a blizzard and left not a spec of dust behind much less garbage bags worth of stuff.

411 stuff left behindThat Ms. ___was snarky and never apologized to us for her [in]actions was as grievous to me as the time she stole from Ms. Gawley and the stress she caused us. I also had a bad reaction to the patronizing tone of the executive’s letter, i.e. “Moving is always stressful.”  Between us my husband and I have moved some 50 times, sometimes across oceans, into property we’ve rented or owned, yet neither of us has experienced a move as bad as this.

I am tempted to write “The Haggler” in The New York Times’ Sunday Business Section but I want the episode behind me. If you need a great agent to buy or sell property I’ll put you in touch with Linda Gawley. Bad agents work all over, not just in NYC—I’ve hired and heard about lousy ones. Haven’t you?

Does someone in a service business–like real estate agent, PR or advertising exec–owe counseling to their clients or has it become yet another area where the client is expected to know everything and to get zero guidance and direction from the specialist?

Service of a Surprisingly Good Hotel Stay: Residence Inn Marriott NYC

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Residence Inn Marriott NY

As we live in Manhattan we haven’t had the chance to try out any of its hotels in many years. We needed to spend one night in a hotel the other week in between apartment moves and were happily surprised to find one–Residence Inn Marriott–through hotels.com in midtown, 148 East 48th Street, at a modest price: $119+ tax.

Residence Inn Marriott NY 2Our stay came with a bunch of bonuses: A generous breakfast, an upgrade to a room with a balcony and view of the top of the Chrysler Building and a kitchen with plates, glasses, a stove and fridge. Between snow on the balcony and frigid temperatures outside we didn’t take advantage of the terrace and we weren’t there long enough to use the kitchen but still. Busy guests could leave at the front desk a list of groceries to stock in their room.

The night we were there we didn’t hear another soul.

Residence Inn Marriott NY 3The room was decorated simply and was spotless. The Wi-Fi worked in an instant. The staff was friendly, welcoming and we were impressed.

In the morning we expected that the free breakfast would consist of coffee and a cheap Danish wrapped in cellophane. Were we wrong. The breakfast room was bustling with contented guests, [perhaps as amazed as we were], some seated on bar stools at bar height tables with a TV on the wall tuned to the morning news; others at tables; still others on sofas around a fireplace. There were free newspapers too. The food choices, served cafeteria style, ranged from bagels, English muffins and bread you could toast; juices; coffee/tea; fresh fruit; cereal; yogurt as well as Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage and potato. And there was an assortment of fresh Danish.

What surprised me most was the breakfast staff. They cleared tables so that the next wave of guests would have a clean place to eat but they did much more. One asked a man who was alone with a baby and encumbered with bags–clearly beached at his table–if he might get him something. Another approached us and volunteered if we knew that we could have gluten and lactose free options.

The staff seemed happy at their jobs.

We didn’t know what to expect or whether to have high expectations given the price and were stunningly surprised. Have you had a similar happy experience at a hotel in a big city—or anywhere for that matter?

Residence Inn Marriott NY 4

 

 

Service of Atmosphere: What Your Instincts Tell You When Entering a Restaurant

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Entering a restaurant

We recently ate out in a single neighborhood every night for a week at restaurants we’d either never before tried or hadn’t been to in a long while. We were greeted with smiles and ate delicious food at La Mangeoire [French], Parnell’s [Irish], Peak [Thai], Ali Baba’s Terrace [Turkish] and Pho Saigon [Vietnamese]. 

La Mangeoire

La Mangeoire

There was one restaurant that took us by surprise. It had been a Belgian bistro and we walked inside without paying attention to the name change and immediately realized it wasn’t what we’d expected. It now sported hints of Asian décor mixed with cheap eclectic and leftover bistro. In short, it had no personality.

It was almost empty—one person waiting for a friend at a very long bar and a few tables had guests. It was therefore strange that nobody seemed pleased we’d come. There was zero scent of food nor did we see any being served. It did not portend to be a night out among neighbors who anticipated a good meal.

Parnells Irish Pub

Parnells Irish Pub

We were given the drink menu immediately and had to wait for the longest time to see the waiter again to get a dinner menu. With menus in hand, finally, we realized we were in a Japanese steakhouse [though you could have fooled us as we didn’t see a single Japanese person on staff or among the customers]. The $15/oz with 3 oz minimum Kobe beef dinner was featured in 48 point type and the first choice we saw. We quickly became aware that this was at the very high end of the neighborhood’s restaurant price range with neither ambiance nor service to match the prices. 

Ali Baba's Terrace

Ali Baba’s Terrace

We heard a long discussion between staff and two young women about where they could sit.  [There were four empty tables where the women pointed and any discussion seemed unnecessary.] Two characters dressed by central casting as gang members complete with baseball-style caps on backwards and jackets with threatening logos paced a sitting area, chatting on their phones.

Our food, while overpriced, was excellent but we couldn’t wait to leave and will never return. My husband gives the place one year. We decided it must have been selling more than food or maybe all the regular staff called in sick.

Have you been to a restaurant without personality where everything seemed off? Or to a place in which you felt unwanted from the get-go?

Pho Saigon

Pho Saigon

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 Someone at the Other End of the Line

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Vintage telephone operator

In the middle of Tuesday’s snowstorm, while we were crawling in traffic, I listened to a friend call a hotel restaurant–our destination. She wanted to say we might be late. She also wanted to ask which entrance we should take as there were several. [One of us had recently recovered from a broken ankle which sported a pin. She wasn’t in the mood for a hospital reprise from a misstep in slush/ice/snow.] After as many as 25 rings she ended in voicemail, left the message and asked that someone return the call to inform her about the entrance. Nobody called.

On phone in snowShe next tried the hotel switchboard—where the operator answered the entrance question—and after many more rings, still nobody picked up. On our arrival–the room was almost empty due to the weather–my friend asked the hostess if there was a phone at her station and recounted her experience. “Someone picks up downstairs,” the hostess replied, noting that yes, there also was a phone at her station.

After this the service was perfect.

Delta takeoffMy friend was due to leave the city Tuesday evening but her flight was cancelled. This well-travelled Elite Service member called me the next morning to tell me of an astonishing thing that just happened when she called Delta Airlines to gauge her chances for her Wednesday afternoon flight. A computer voice welcomed her by name, apologized that the airline had to cancel her Tuesday flight and asked her to push a letter on her phone if she wanted to speak with someone. She did, expecting to wait ages when almost immediately a live person asked her, again by name, how she might help her.

Even though when we spoke** she still didn’t know whether or not the afternoon flight would go—all Wednesday morning and night flights had already been cancelled—this 30 year Elite Service member was brimming with delight that it had been so easy for her to reach a live voice, at an airline no less, under these stressful [for them after a storm with so many cancelled flights] circumstances! “It was a first,” she said. **She was scheduled to depart on the afternoon flight when we spoke again just before takeoff.

Hooray for Delta! What a difference an easily accessible caring voice can make. Wonder why more businesses don’t realize this [especially one, like the hotel restaurant, that’s already paying for two people to answer a phone and nobody does]?

Children playing telephone 1

Service of Exemplary Service

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

APlus

Here are a few recent instances of people who performed well beyond expectations. What a joyful way to end the month of May!

Cleanup

Kelsi, a teenage checkout person at the A&P in Pleasant Valley, NY shocked me when she opened a box of erase sponges in my pile of things on the conveyor belt. “Missing two, thought so,” she said.

Groceries“How could you possibly tell?” I asked her, astonished as these sponges weigh as much as whipped egg whites. While she sent someone back to retrieve an intact box she said, “In training they sent through a woman with an empty pizza box. You pick it up.” It turns out that the person who stole the two sponges went to town: Many of the remaining boxes were also missing two.

In the Chips

After a strenuous visit to a physical therapist for a bum arm my husband, [who is also inching out of a year with chronic Lyme disease so he must use his energy sparingly] dropped by Fairway on East 86th Street in Manhattan. I’d asked him to pick up a bag of my favorite Fairway restaurant style tortilla chips as he was in the neighborhood.

Tortilla chipsOn entering, he asked a young man where to find them. He responded: “Wait here, I’ll be right back,” and he ran downstairs, soon emerging with just the right chips. Did my husband have written on his face or in his body language, “I hate shopping and I don’t want to be here?” I wager he may go back to that store anyway because he called me on the spot—he also dislikes speaking on his mobile phone—to tell me how pleased and surprised he was at this glorious service.

Seamless Service

MendingIt’s dry cleaning season. I went to Thims in its Salt Point, NY branch to pick up a load of fresh woolens and a skirt came back outside the plastic protective bags with a handwritten note that Heather Killmer read to me. The note inquired whether I wanted the tailor to fix a tiny tear on a seam before the garment was cleaned. There were precise instructions as to where this tear was located—we needed them. I mentioned to Ms. Killmer how astonished I was that someone had even noticed such a microscopic flaw. “We carefully go over every piece before we clean it,” she smiled.

Do you think, “What’s the big deal, these people are doing their jobs” or do you agree we’ve lucked in to some special operations or individuals? Can you share similar service experiences?  

Cherry on top

Service of an Expert Salesman

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Dancing with Fred A

When an improved product and expert salesman mesh, it’s a pleasure to spend money. For a service fanatic, it’s poetry to behold–like dancing with a star.

This happened to us the other week when Barry Lang from Audia Motor Sales in Millbrook, NY called to tell us our lease had expired on our Chevy Malibu. My husband Homer Byington, not a car enthusiast, was impressed by the negotiation. He said, “I knew I had to do something about the lease, and Barry got to me before I reached out to Audia. There was plenty of time to make a decision: Buy the car we’d driven for three years or lease a new one.

Chevy Malibu“He could tell I was technologically illiterate and conducted his sales pitch in language I could understand,” said Homer. “He also priced his offer competitively, not taking advantage of me.” Homer had checked with a family member in a related business who confirmed the lease price was fair.

Meanwhile, while we liked the 2010 Malibu we turned in, it had its faults, every one of which was addressed in the 2013 auto. The designers reduced the size of the side view mirror that previously had been so big that at certain angles I had to practically stand up in my seat while making a left hand turn for fear of running over someone hidden behind the device. The windshield seems bigger and the rear headrests smaller increasing visibility. Chevy also removed a lump that housed a break light at eye level for the cars behind, which took away rear window visibility for the driver. And it added handles above each door as a standard feature and enlarged the glove compartment.

Back to Barry. He was patient with our questions, explaining how the car’s Bluetooth system worked and other features basic for most but unfamiliar to us. We took a week to decide whether to buy or lease again and a car in the color we liked–a blue/gray–was still there on our return. When we noted this Barry said he’d reserved it for us.

snooty car salesmanWe’ve written previously about how friends and family members have been treated dismissively and disrespectfully by showroom staff selling highfalutin brands with hefty price tags. We don’t think Barry could make someone feel diminished; arrogance isn’t his style yet he could sell high end products with equal success.

If you drop in to Audia Motors, my bet is that one of the Audias will be there. One brother, Peter, chatted with us briefly last Saturday before we signed up and this Saturday Bob handed me my permanent NY State registration. During the week someone at Audia had paid for and picked it up at Motor Vehicles.

Can you share a boast about a similar sales experience for any product?

Happy Customer

Service of Expectations

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

expectations

I read about the 2012 American ExpressGlobal Customer Service Barometer” in a research brief from the Center for Media Research. Many of the findings in “Consumers Bail if Service is Bad (…..duh),” weren’t surprising, as the title infers. On reading some of the conclusions, I wondered what part of the world the respondents came from. I’m pretty sure that impatient New Yorkers and anyone with a job must not have been represented in large numbers.

The brief notes that “The survey reveals a sorry state of service in general, pointing that 93% of Americans surveyed say that companies fail to exceed their service expectations, while 55% walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience.”

How my gripes meet the respondents’:

According to the brief, rudeness“When asked about the top customer service irritants most likely to lead them to switch brands in 2012, 79% cited one of these ‘Big Four Gripes’:

Rudeness:  An insensitive or unresponsive customer service representative, 33%

Passing the Buck:  Being shuffled around with no resolution of the issue, 26%

The Waiting Game:  Waiting too long to have an issue resolved, 10%

Being Boomeranged:  Forced to continually follow up on an issue, 10%”

I wrote this post in the middle of a to-do with my office phone landline provider. I’d not had service for four days. Apart from the obvious inconvenience, my biggest gripe involved the time it takes to follow-up which I had to do several times a day. There is no direct phone number to repairs as there once was. Customers must press one, press two, and press something else to finally get a person and sometimes, once in the right place, wait on hold for an operator. Once resolved, you hear from many by text, phone and email messages galore.

The first day I expected the repair crew I got in on early and in mid afternoon got a call on my mobile phone to alert me that nobody would be coming because of heavy repair volume. After that, live people left messages on my mobile phone without it ringing so I couldn’t speak with them. Frustrating.

pass-the-buckNobody was rude; there was shuffling around with no resolution and I had to wait far too long. Further, I was given conflicting reasons for the breakdown from crossed wires and installation of new wires to programming issues.  The joke: There is only one other option to handle my landline, so who are we fooling? I can’t switch brands and everybody knows it. I’m at the mercy of the vendor.

My boiling point comes much faster than the survey participants’:

“The average consumer hits his or her boiling point after 13 minutes on hold, creating a golden opportunity for companies to increase customer satisfaction by beating the clock,” according to the brief.  “Similarly, Americans will wait an average of 12 minutes for in-person help at establishments such as banks, retail stores or restaurants.”

Me to survey takers: I wouldn’t wait two minutes, much less 12 to 13, for a retail store or restaurant to pick up the phone. I probably would wait a bit longer for a bank but wouldn’t be happy after four, at most five minutes. Who stays calm after that?

What are your expectations as a customer and what are your limits?

timer

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