Ugh, is it Friday already? I may not have actually lost half of my life sitting at that rain dance Wednesday evening, but I certainly lost enough of my weekend to have me completely behind schedule with all of my bloggy to-dos… one of which is the next post in my Prompt the Squirrel series. Yes, it’s the day where you get to boss me around and choose the topic I have to write/draw about… and also complain to my supervisor about my tendency to blog without a hairnet.
I have just five prompts left in this game of WordPress roulette, and only one that requires me to just sit down and start writing about something without having to do any real work like making pictures or doing incompetent research. I was saving it up for a rainy day when my time was limited, and I guess a week where I end up publishing my Thursday comic on Friday morning would qualify. It comes from Marilyn, and if you read my Wednesday Photo Prompt posts, you should know who she is by now. What topic did she want to see The Nest’s staff of one take on?
Customer service. I spent almost 9 f**king hours on the phone or chat with AT&T yesterday. I lost an ENTIRE DAY buying a telephone and getting a new service plan. Because the old iPhone 4S is dead. You would think they would WANT to sell me stuff, wouldn’t you? That it would benefit AT&T and Marilyn to make this process painless and pleasant, wouldn’t you? Huh? Right? Wrong.
Okay. I’m done. But I have found Customer Disservice to be a subject which never gets old. You never run out of material. You can rant and the world rants with you.
Well, I could take the really easy way out of this prompt, and just let the world’s leading authority on pretty much everything, the late George Carlin, give us his take on customer service…
But of course, my *ahem* chosen career has given me a lot of experience with the concept of customer service, or lack thereof, one can expect from big business these days.
Back in the days of yore, it was standard business philosophy that the best way to encourage return business was to keep your customers happy. Short of hiring strippers as sales clerks, one of the best ways to maintain customer happiness was to ensure they received excellent service before, during and after the sale. You’ve no doubt heard of this phrase before…
Responding to customer complaints, even when they border on the absurd, was long the law of the business jungle. Hotel room too noisy because the guests next door had wild sex all night? Free room for you! Had to wait 15 minutes for your Big Mac because the morning shift forgot to thaw out patties before the lunch rush? Please enjoy this hot apple pie on us! Your cholesterol medicine caused your liver to fail and your spleen to fall out of your body? Please, take these samples of Viagra at no charge!
Of course, those of us who work in the customer service industry know that this worn out old saw is also a steaming load of bullshit…
For every complaint customers make about the rude, clueless service people they deal with, you’ll find a war story from the front line employees who have to put up with rude, clueless customers. Working nights, I don’t deal with nearly as many customers as my colleagues who work days and evenings, but I’ve had a few encounters that have rubbed me the wrong way… including one I flat out had to walk away from. The biggest issue of customer cluelessness I generally have to deal with is convincing customers that we don’t sell and have never sold a certain product they swear up and down they’ve found here before. Chances are, you shop at a lot of different stores… including perhaps several different Meccas. No matter how organized you think your
puny little brain is, you can’t possibly remember where you bought every single product.
But while there have always been rude service people and rude customers, the biggest obstacle to efficient, friendly customer service comes from a source neither party can control, and that’s the ever increasing megalopolis corporations that have recently discovered that customer service is the latest, greatest expense on their budgets that can be lopped off to help increase those executive bonuses. It’s been happening where I work for almost 10 years, the sales clerk staff has been essentially deemed unnecessary and their numbers decimated to where there are times when the store is essentially self service. By 11PM most nights, the entire sales staff is already gone and the keys to every display case in the store all rest with the customer service manager up front… who is supposed to be keeping an eye on the one register we have open. This not only hurts the service you receive directly, but indirectly as well since the tasks that crew once did have now fallen to those who are supposed to be busy taking care of making sure orders are filled and shelves are stocked.
Just like soylent green, customer service is PEOPLE. And you can brag about your excellent customer service record all you want, but it means diddly squat if you can’t back it up with ample and knowledgeable staff. So why do the overlords in my sector of the economy continue to scrimp on customer service despite the overwhelming wave of negativity lately?
It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Customers will seethe about MIA employees and long checkout waits, all the while still stocking up on the lowest prices in town. And you can rest assured that customer service will continue to get slashed right down to the point where it makes or breaks whether the dollars keep flowing into company coffers. Higher prices at the old customer friendly stores still deter more shoppers than the consumer wasteland of the discount stores do. In the overly competitive and uber greedy world of big business these days, the nice guys who still do things the old fashioned way will quickly find themselves out of business faster than a silly dot com…
So until the great customer uprising actually happens, continue to expect service not only without a smile, but without an actual human face to go with it. In getting in line with the current business trends, I’d also like to announce that if you find your experience at The Nest to be in any way unsatisfactory, please call our customer service hotline at 1-900-GET-BENT where a
chained trained possum on Dinkum Island will be more than happy to take your call after you’ve been on hold for 4 hours and speak pseudo-sympathetic scripted gibberish to you in a dialect you can’t possibly understand.
Come back next Friday for another prompt…. if my blog doesn’t end up in Chapter 11.