Customer Service Matters

I expect good customer service.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have high expectations on the customer service industry. When I pay for a product – of any kind – I expect to be treated well. It honestly does not matter how much I spend on something….I expect good customer service.  I have been escorted out of a Target store because of my insistence that they provide me with the best customer service experience.  When they could not do that, and I told them why their practices were ridiculous, a security guard showed me the door.

Yesterday morning, I ran into customer service at one of its poorest moments at the United Airlines ticket kiosk in Milwaukee.  The 5 a.m. puddle jumper flight from Milwaukee to Chicago (seriously, why did I do that??) was a full flight.  At 3:45 a.m, everyone who wanted to be on the flight had arrived (they say 90-120 minutes before your flight…right, TSA?) and stood in line.  People standing in line breeds frustration.  When the one ticket agent arrived at 4:15 a.m. to turn on the electronic kiosks, the moans could be heard throughout the terminal.  Many of the passengers had no idea how to use them, and they actually were malfunctioning!  But the agent did not believe people!  She kept saying, “You have to follow the directions.”  Helpful.  Maybe if you say it louder, they will understand?  Repeating the same phrase over and over again when the machine is not working does not usually end in positive results.  Just sayin’….

In addition to this, there was not clear marking for lines and who should be in which ones.  It did not really matter, though, because nothing was working.  I honestly do not know how the flight left on time given that security is always a fiasco.  Seriously – I wondered why do I even get dressed for a flight.  I should walk around the airport barefoot with my shoes, coat, belt, etc. in my carry-on while holding my laptop and quart-size bag of toiletries (by the way, don’t ever take your favorite toothpaste in a larger than 3 oz tube – it is a liquid) in my hands.  Airports now have “recombobulation areas.”  This should say something about how upsetting air travel is.  But that is another blog…

What is good customer service? Bad customer service stories are really fun to tell, and I could write an entire blog about some of my doosies (sp?!?!?!)….but really – what is good customer service?  I think that I will try to focus on something positive and share with you some good stuff rather than some frustrating stuff.

At the foundation of every interaction, I expect the following:
1. I expect to be heard.
2. I expect to be dealt with honestly.
3. I expect competence from the customer service representative.
4. I expect good common sense from the customer service representative.

I have had two excellent customer service experiences in the past week. Oddly enough, both occurred with online purchases. The first occurred when I uploaded some photos to the CVS photo site so that Beth could have them printed for a project. They are awesome photos, by the way, but that has nothing to do with the story. I uploaded the photos and received an email confirmation (with an online order number for tracking purposes) that my order had been completed. Later, I received an email (with the same order number) saying that the photos were ready for pick up. I was at camp, so I forwarded that email to Beth. She and Kerry went to the CVS location, but they were told that the photos were not there and that no order had been placed. Beth let me know this so that I could follow up. I forwarded the confirmation email to the CVS customer service email and explained the situation.

Within a few hours, I received an email from a real person who had placed an actual phone call to the store who claimed that the order did not exist.  Not only that, but she had found the online order and had resubmitted it.  The order would be available for pick up – free of charge – within the hour.  There was no real explanation as to whether the store had lost the order or if the computer system had misplaced it, but she solved the problem.  The real manager of the store placed a real phone call to me and apologized for the inconvenience.  She reiterated that the photos were available. When Kerry and Beth picked up the photos later in the day, the manager had placed a $5 CVS gift card into the photo envelop.

This was good customer service!  My problem was heard by a competent individual who acknowledged that her company had made a mistake.  She solved the problem, and she compensated us for time lost due to their mistake.  I will go back to CVS photo just because of this experience!

The second positive customer service experience that I had this week was with iTunes.  On the day that Steve Jobs passed away, I purchased an iPad2.  There are so many reasons for the purchase, and I am so glad that I made the leap (although I am not overly impressed with the WordPress app…I can’t see the words that I type into the body of a blog post…this makes it hard to edit!).  The one thing that has held me back from an iPad purchase is the fact that I function in a Microsoft Office world.  Well, you say, isn’t there an app for that?  There is! 

Docs to Go is an awesome app that allows users to function in the Office world from the iPad. What I did not know (or pay attention to well) was the fact that there are two products: Docs to Go and Docs to Go Premiere.  The second is the one that I need because it links to Dropbox…where all of my work documents live.  The first does not have that function.  For $8 less, that makes sense.  I purchased the first and then realized that I wanted the second.  I purchased that as well.  And … before iTunes had even processed the orders, the iTunes customer service representative had approved my refund of the first.  She was very reasonable and – although their “terms of use” are very clear that mistakenly purchasing an app is not good cause for a refund – issued me a refund.  This is good customer service!

Good customer service keeps me as a customer.  Unless I am completely sold out on a product (Chipotle), it only takes one really bad customer experience for me to say, “See ya!”  There have been times when I have taken a break from a particular store due to an issue rather than leaving the entire organization; however, for the most part, these people need to get a clue. The economy is not good enough for customer service to become an issue.  Most services are duplicated by other companies, and the most competent will rise to the top.  The Apple company has shown that to me.  Not only do they have a great product but their customer service is also head and shoulders above any of the PC world companies.

Good customer service needs to be celebrated; poor customer service needs to be reported.  Unfortunately, I fear that the airlines really do not care anymore.  They provide a service that we now depend upon to get us from home to visit grandma.  How long they make us wait and how they treat us along the way will not matter unless we let them know that we will not tolerate their behavior.

I, for one, have already started to reconsider how my next trip will look.  The megabus is looking pretty good.

Stay tuned for tomorrow…more good customer service…


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3 responses to “Customer Service Matters

  1. Here Here! Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more! I am similar to you also. It only takes one huge blunder for me to dump a store or brand. Traveling is often difficult and has poor customer service sometimes.

    France does not have, nor do they believe in, customer service. It’s driving me crazy!! Not only am I a fan, I know it’s a must if you want people to continue to support whatever it is you’re selling. I miss the great customer service in New Jersey (sigh).

    It’s funny that you might take the bus. Might not be such a bad idea 🙂


  2. Great post – love that you were escorted out of Target…woman after my own heart. I am soooo big on customer service as well but mostly want to give etiquette classes to those in the healthcare industry! That’s another blog post but I might beat you to it!!


  3. Oh and go on Jet Blue whenever you can! Believe me, I travel a lot and they are the only American carrier worth traveling.


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