Monday, April 16, 2012

Whatever Happened to Customer Service?

It’s been a bad week for customer service, not mine, but the service of others. We subscribe to a local paper who gave us one of those fantastic deals for a year. They sent a bill in February even though our subscription ran through September. I called to explain that we had a deal and they needed to fulfill it. They relented and continued to deliver the paper. Friday I got another bill…makes you wonder. Is anyone paying attention? Now I will have to call again and explain what the deal is and how they have to honor it. My husband is also having issues.

He purchased an iPhone case when we went to MacWorld. It was a cool case that holds a couple of credit cards and a key. Perfect for guys who carry very little, this is because they just hand their stuff to their wives or girlfriends who put it in their bags. Most guy won’t relinquish their cell phones so they hold on to those, this case allowed him to carry the essentials of his wallet too. He ordered the case at MacWorld but hadn’t received it to date. He contacted the company and apparently they are having production difficulties and their first run came out awful. They are going for a second manufacturing run and hopefully this one comes out according to their specifications. It seems that this is a common problem when manufacturing a product; the first run may not come out as expected.

While this maybe a common problem, why didn’t the company send out an email to notify the paid orders of the error? This is the problem with customer service, there is none. Companies are so interested in giving a customer the best price that they are completely ignoring customer service. I read somewhere that this is a “race to the bottom” in the retail industry. Companies need to provide customer service or something unique to brand themselves, make themselves stand out in a crowd. So many companies are selling similar items that the best price isn’t always the best deal. What if the product is back ordered, will they send an explanation? What if the product is damaged, will they replace it? What if you just have a question, are they going to keep in touch or are they just going to ignore every phone call you make to get an answer? Kind of like my trying to get an estimate for my car repair, so far it hasn't happened even though I brought the car in for a look see and have called them, twice!

The world isn’t perfect but I remember a trip to Cartier. I happened to be walking by the store and saw a watch in the window that caught my eye. I stepped into the store to ask how much the watch cost, just out of curiosity. The representative kindly took out the watch in the display, asked me if I would like to sit down and offered me a glass of champagne. He had no idea if I intended to buy the watch or even if I had the money, but he acted like I was the most important person in the room. Since my visit the representative has sent updates on the watch and even offered information on new products. He doesn’t spam me, just keeps me informed and I’ve never bought a thing from this man. He understands the golden rule of customer service, help the customer regardless of whether they have purchased, are going to purchase or just need a question answered. This is why Cartier is top of the class and many companies are racing to the bottom.

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