Your customer service experiences

by | Oct/13/2010

When you, as an executive, have to call customer service or technical support do you ever feel frustrated? I know the answer of course, and it is interesting to examine why. Here are some examples:

The “fraud early warning” department for one of my credit cards calls regularly because I often make “card present” charges in at least five different states every week. I’ve had this same conversation with umpteen representatives through the years but there seems to be no system in place at the bank for them to save everyone time by “remembering.”

Do you, as an executive, wish companies could get to know a little about who you are? I cannot imagine doing business without a CRM in place.

Another issue is how valuable your time is. Representatives have to read enormous scripts with everything from disclaimers to special offers for you? Maybe they will lose their job if they fail to read them all to you.

Then there are the profuse apologies about being sorry for messing up, sorry for putting you on hold, sorry they have to leave you on hold a little bit longer, sorry for not getting back from hold soon enough, sorry for the problem you experienced, sorry for apologizing so often, etc. Sometimes these are mixed in with a plethora of excuses, defenses, and justifications. This extra talk just interferes with you wanting to have as short of a call as possible.

Another notable moment is when the representative asks, “Do you have something to write with?” What kind of customers do these poor customer service representatives who support business professionals have to deal with on a daily basis that don’t have a pen and paper, if not a computer, handy at all times?

And we all know about the dreaded hand-off, the hold times, and the many other problems that lead executives to dread calling customer service or technical support.

Two things I know:

  • You, as an executive, are busy – too busy to deal with long winded seemingly unhelpful technical service representatives.
  • I have tremendous compassion for the representatives. They are in, what seems to me, one of the most thankless and unpleasant jobs in the world. I certainly appreciate their efforts and my heart goes out to them.

Maybe the answer is to allow people to qualify themselves somehow. Maybe if you have been a customer for more than 5 years you get to call a secret phone number where representatives don’t have to read long scripts and you can just get an issue resolved quickly. Maybe if you’ve always paid your bill on time they won’t ask if you have a pen and paper handy.

Maybe there will be an option:

  • Press 1 if you want to speak to a representative that will apologize to you every other sentence or
  • Press 2 if you already know how sorry we are for your inconvenience and you just want us to solve the problem so you can get on with your life.

I think my favorite customer service experience is when I call my airline. If you fly often, then you have an unpublished number to phone customer service. There is less time on hold and the representatives handle the call professionally. Hooray!

Is it possible for credit card companies, mobile phone providers, insurance companies, and other organizations to have tiered customer service that allow some customers to have a better experience?

At the same time, when I need help at the airport counter, I’ve learned to avoid the first class because the first class customers seem to be high maintenance compared to the rest of the customers. Consequently, the first class line can move at a crawl compared to the other lines.

Furthermore, I wonder if the bad customer service keeps executives and IT professionals alike from getting issues resolved that affect their IT security. If contacting “customer service” is deemed so unpleasant that you will settle for low security, that is a big issue.

Since we cannot change other companies, I’d love to know success you’ve had that improves customer service!

Please post your comments on this blog.