Thursday, February 26, 2015

Customer Service

See here for more info on this

I am always delighted when I receive good customer service, and, when you stop to think about it, anything else just doesn't make sense for a company that wants to succeed. Yet, amazingly, there are so many companies where absolutely no effort is put into ensuring customers concerns are taken care of with the least amount of delay and that the customer is not left with a bad taste in their mouth.

I know that I will not only become a loyal repeat customer when I receive good customer service, I will also be free advertising, in person and on social media, and here on my blog, for that company. Of course, the corollary is true. I will make as much noise, if not more, when I receive bad customer service, and I will never return to that company again.  Repeat business is, or should be, very important to any company.

A situation that arises when a customer returns again and again to purchase a good or service from a business. Offering repeat business is the hallmark of a steady customer that is usually highly valued by businesses that they patronize since they typically require minimal additional marketing efforts to retain.
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And this excerpt sums it up:
According to our analysis, 25% to 40% of the total revenues of the most stable businesses in the SumAll network come from returning customers. Even better, steady customers help businesses weather lean economic times; businesses with 40% repeat customers generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only a 10% repeat customers. 
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And one of the driving forces that is improving customer service across the board is Social Media, more specifically Facebook. Whenever anyone feels they have not received the service they believe they should, it only takes a second to find that company's Facebook page and express your disappointment - believe me, that brings a very speedy response. I would suggest that everyone does try to go back and update the page with any positive feedback should it exist.  Using the Pavlova's dog theory perhaps we can all be instrumental in encouraging improvement in this area.

The companies where good service has confirmed me as a repeat customer include Michael's (see my blog here), Amazon, Zappos and Philips - that is Philips Appliances.  To illustrate my point, my experience with Philips was almost a lifetime ago in Ireland - in the mid 1970's. A time and a place where customer service had not yet been invented. Philips replaced a fridge freezer without question, when ice started to form on the back of the unit - on the outside. This in itself was unusual (both the ice and the replacement) but the appliance was just outside it's warranty period and so, replacing it - free of charge - was unheard of!

Everyone knows about the legendary customer service both Amazon and Zappos are so rightfully proud of.  Check on this article about Zappos customer service.

Guess no one in AT&T or Suddenlink read those reports.

I have had some bad customer experiences, but AT&T has got to have been the very worst, after 18 years I still won't entertain ever using any of their services again, and have no hesitation in advising family and friends to avoid them.

What on earth did they do to me to deserve that? Well, a few things, but I guess the crunch was having a customer service representative hang up on me. Now, if you knew me, you would know that I am a very mild mannered person, I am certainly not aggressive nor prone to being abusive, so I assure you I did not deserve that! Actually no customer does, even if they are abusive.

It started with a $500 phone bill.  I had cell phone, two land lines (one for a modem) and my Internet service from AT&T - I am sure I would have had UVerse too if it had been available 1995.  My phone plan was optimized for international calling as that was pretty much all I did back then and my monthly bill was always around $130. I was horrified to get a $500 bill and when I called customer service I was told I had changed my plan.  No I didn't! why would I? The representative I was unfortunate enough to get was rude from the start - and it took about 20 minutes of hold time to get him. He was very unhelpful, so I asked to speak to a supervisor - that was when he hung up on me.

See here for the full story
I called back and another 30 minutes of hold time I got another representative and asked to speak to a supervisor immediately. I was told the only way to do that was call an automated system, leave my number and request a call back from a supervisor. I did this, and the message I left was that if I did not receive a call back within 30 minutes I was canceling all my services and moving to MCI - the immediate competitor at that time - 30 minutes later, with no hold time, I was speaking to MCI and within 10 minutes had moved all my services to them. It was another 20 minutes before the AT&T callback. I told them it was too late I had moved to MCI - the supervisor confirmed for me that it was the correct move, as she very rudely told me I should have waited for my callback.

And most recently, Suddenlink amazed me by showing that they really didn't care what their customers thought. They are our Internet and TV provider, and they also supplied our home security system which is wireless, and up to recently we were very happy with them - the technical support has always been first class and the service has been reliable.  However, a couple of months ago our alarm system started to cause problems, we had issues with the backup battery system, and eventually they told us that the 4 year old phone system needed to be upgraded. They also insisted that the existing system had to be replaced with a new one as it was not possible to upgrade the unit we currently had.

How many customers fell for that one? Fortunately my husband has worked in technology for years, and not only is he very smart, he is also very frugal - he loves nothing better than to scour the Internet for days finding a better deal, and he had already sourced another supplier that was cheaper than Suddenlink and had good reviews. When we told Suddenlink's representative that we knew it could be upgraded and if they wouldn't do it we would switch to a company who would they didn't care. He called Smith Thompson and they confirmed that the system we had could certainly be upgraded and yes, they would be happy to upgrade it for us. So, for very little cost we got a better system, and reduced our monthly bill.

Suddenlink had already dropped a number of channels from their TV package and increased the cost, and for that they appear to have lost a number of their TV customers as there are alternatives and it is not difficult to find the rumblings of unhappy customers on the Internet.

Here is a very interesting site, though I question the results because it think it is a known fact that the majority of people only voice their opinion when that opinion is bad.

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