Unpleasant Experience

October 29th, 2010

Customer service is one of the ‘givens’ companies have to deliver well… especially when folks come to them with problems. Disney uses the word ‘recovery.’ I prefer, ‘We pay you money, so fix it.’ A problem is the reason I called the phone company this morning, needing to find out how to change the fact we couldn’t access voice mail.

The first person transferred me to a second who – unable to assist me because ‘that’s handled by another department’ – transferred me to a third. After a computer-generated voice prompted me to enter our primary phone number for the third time, a woman came on and said, “May I have your phone number, please?” (Really? You guys handle a bagillion calls every day and you have to ask my number after I entered it three times!)

Our conversation went something like this:

“Sir, I understand you’re having a problem with your phone lines.”

“No, we can’t access voicemail. I’m calling you from our phone line.”

“Did you know we have a troubleshooting guide online?”

“Yes, I do. In fact, could you let someone know I tried that five times before calling, and each time after entering our phone number it kicked me back to the home page.”

“Yes, all you have to do is enter your phone number…”

“You’re not hearing me, ma’am. I tried that and it didn’t work.”

“Let me explain the steps, so next time…”

“Ma’am… could you please stop speaking and listen. I need you to tell me…”

(Loudly) “Sir, I’m only trying to help you.”

“Monica, I have yet to raise my voice and you seem to be getting frustrated. After 15 minutes, would it make more sense that I should be the one who’s frustrated?”

(Still loud) “Do you want my help or not?”

“May I please speak to your supervisor?”

“Absolutely.”

From that point, a wonderful – and quite apologetic – woman named Julie came on and her first words were: “Did anyone tell you there is a problem in the Houston area and we’re working to fix it as fast as we can?”

I laughed, she apologized further, and within five minutes taught me how to listen to voice mail online. Then she told me about an App that allows us access from our iPhones. I thanked her twice, and – knowing the call was being recorded – said, “When you work to train Monica, please let her hear how you listened and promptly solved my issue. You did great.”

In your business, no matter how big or small, make sure everyone who comes in contact with customers understands the right way to speak with them… especially anyone whose title contains the words ‘customer service.’ If they fail, it reflects on you.

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