Customer Service Stories from Both Sides

 

Over the last several weeks, we’ve written about problems with customer service.   And, no matter how bazaar the stories get, there is shortly a new one.

The latest, the week after Delta made its headlines by removing a customer who had to go to the bathroom while the plane was on the tarmac, United topped that by making a customer pee in a cup at her seat because the seat belt light was on in mid-flight.

 

The # 1 Internet Provider …

But enough about the airlines. Let’s look at another group of necessary suppliers; internet providers.

The number one provider in the US is Comcast. And despite being rated the worst in customer service over many years, and promising to reform their service, the horrible stories continue.  For example:

Conal O’Rourke claims his bill was never correct during the year in which he was a customer. When he tried to fix the problem, Comcast shipped him nearly $2,000 worth of equipment that he never requested or needed – and then billed him for it.

After filing a complaint with Comcast’s chief accounting officer, O’Rourke was fired from his job. He then sued Comcast, alleging that they contacted his employer, PwC, who holds Comcast as a major client, and told his supervisor that O’Rourke attempted to use his position at PwC as a negotiating tactic to get a better cable deal.

 

House For Sale !

In March 2015, Consumerist reported on a Comcast customer, Seth, who ultimately had to sell a house he just bought because he couldn’t get internet access, which he needed for his job.

Like most Comcast horror stories, Seth’s saga spans months of useless calls, appointments, and general mayhem.

This story also points to the larger problem of cable providers falsely claiming service is available in certain locations. BroadbandMap.gov showed several internet options available at his address, but just to make sure, Seth asked Comcast before purchasing his house if the address was serviceable.

He was misled. In the end, after Comcast vaguely quoted him a $50,000 to $60,000 charge to bring service to his location, and having no luck with alternate providers, Seth saw no other option but to sell his new home.

 

No Need For Profanity !

When Lisa Brown called to cancel the cable TV portion of her service, she was, of course, transferred to a retention specialist specifically trained to talk her out of it. 

She didn’t back down, though.  Much to her surprise and agitation, the next service bill she received was addressed not to her husband, Ricardo Brown, but to “Asshole Brown.”

“I was never rude,” Brown told consumer advocate Chris Elliott. “It could have been that person was upset because I didn’t take the offer.”

Just days after Brown’s story went viral, three more Comcast customers came forward reporting their names had been changed to derogatory words.

 

Why Do Customers Stay? 

Why do customers after having experienced or reading about the poor customer service continue to do business with these organizations?  Mostly price.

The airlines and Internet providers market price on a continuous basis, and the buying public assumes that these companies have some sort of a secret sauce to quality customer service at the lowest price.

The other issue is that some part of the public is either not very bright or feels very entitled.

How about a few examples:

This worker used to work in a small supermarket and had a lady return a disposable barbecue because ‘it’s just got lumps of black stuff in it.’ She had seen the picture on the front of the box that showed burgers and sausages on it and assumed they came with the barbecue.”

A server at one place had a customer complain that their ice water was too cold and asked for it to be microwaved. She was very upset when the server returned with a cup of just water.”

This person used to work in the home section of a high-end department store in New York. A woman comes in to return her Keurig saying that it won’t make coffee, won’t turn on: nothing. The company happily exchanges it for a new one. Two weeks later she’s back. Same problem, it won’t turn on and it’s totally dead. So they give her a new one. A week later she comes back AGAIN with the same problem. This time, she’s LIVID and yelling at one of the associates. ‘I can’t believe you sell such a terrible product! No one here has any idea what they are doing! God, it’s like every time I put it in the dishwasher it breaks! She had been putting her entire coffee machine into the dishwasher and didn’t understand why it kept breaking.”

And then the person who was working in a health food store when a woman came in asking for local organic oranges, swearing she had bought local oranges from our store in the past. It was February…and they were in Canada.

 

In Every Case … 

In every case cited here, either the employee or the customer insisted that they were right. As a result, they either end up exposing their employer to potential lawsuits, as in the case of the airlines and Comcast, or simply to ridicule.

If you are a customer, make sure you are not the problem before you post on social media.

And if a company provides bad customer service, don’t just complain, don’t continue to patronize them, even if they are the lowest cost.

If you are the employee, make sure that you are treating your employer’s customers the way that will keep them as customers. 

And if you are an employer, make certain that you have a customer service culture and that you hire employees that value that culture.

If not, we’d be happy to talk with you about the alternatives.

 

Revitalization Partners is a Northwest business advisory and restructuring management firm with a demonstrated track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. And now, we’ve written a book to help our readers understand the issues facing their businesses. You can find this compilation of our business thoughts at:
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We specialize in improving the operational and financial results of companies and providing hands-on expertise in virtually every circumstance, with a focus on small and mid-market organizations.

Whether your requirement is Interim Management, a Business Assessment, Revitalization and Reengineering or Receivership/Bankruptcy Support, we focus on giving you the best resolution in the fastest time with the highest possible return.