Customer Service – The Tale of Two Organizations

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Customer service is the lifeblood of an organization.  Your organization may have the best product on market or deliver a remarkable service, but if your organization fails to deliver customer service, your customers will turn to your competitor.  I’m consistently surprised when I find organizations that fail to deliver customer service.  With the challenges in the economy, it’s more important than ever that you set yourself apart from your competition by not only delivering a great product or service, but delivering top notch customer service.

Let me give you examples of two very different experiences of customer service.  When I moved to a new location, I had to turn off my utilities at the old address and then turn them on at the new address.  Unfortunately, I didn’t update the new account numbers in my online banking.  When I paid my Cox and SRP bills, the payments went to the old, closed account.  I discovered this when Cox sent me a check in the amount of my payment.  I called Cox customer service to address this and ask a couple of questions about my charges. What I expected to be an easy conversation turned out to be an example of horrible customer service.

When I called their Cox customer service number, someone answered with a simple, “Hello.”  I wondered if I dialed the wrong number.  I had to ask if I was talking to someone from Cox.   I was – I was talking to Kenny.  He sounded annoyed and completely uninterested in talking to me.  There was a lot of noise in the background and it sounded like he was working from home, not an office setting.  While there’s nothing wrong with telecommuting, I don’t want to be distracted by what’s happening in the background that’s unrelated to the call.  When I explained the situation, he didn’t believe that Cox sent me a return check.  I didn’t expect that response.  I read him the information from the check to no avail.  He didn’t even look into my account to try to figure out what happened. He told me in order to avoid a late fee, I had to pay him on the phone via credit or debit card.  Regarding the questions I had about my account, he would address them AFTER I paid my account balance.  I sat in silence for a moment as I was trying to comprehend how rude and unprofessional this customer service rep was handling this situation.  Payment was not an issue – I was contacting Cox to rectify this situation and make sure they did receive payment.  Yet he was treating me like a bad collection account in a rude condescending manner that was inappropriate in any situation.  And he was holding my account questions hostage until I paid.  It was incredulous to me – did he realize he was in the “Customer Service” department?  I did pay the account in full and he agreed to answer my questions.  My next call should have been to Dish or Direct TV.

However, my next call was to SRP.  I realized I would have the same account payment issue with them.  This experience was on the other end of the customer service spectrum.  Regine answered the phone very professionally and identified that she was with SRP.  I gave her my name and purpose of the call.  She was very nice and engaged in the situation and working with me.  She politely told me what she doing at each step of looking into my accounts.  She looked at both my previous account and current account.  She told me that they did receive the check, noticed it was for the old account, held it and they were going to transfer it to my new account, but it appeared that rather than transferring it, they sent me a refund check.  She apologized that they didn’t transfer it and for any inconvenience.  She offered three different recommendations as to how we could handle the situation and gave me her recommendation as to which one would work best for me.  She also noticed that as a result of this mix up, I was charged a late fee.  She said they would waive the late fee given the situation.  I was in customer service heaven.  She was a stellar example of customer service.  I felt heard, understood, and respected.  I was proud to be served by SRP.  This is a company I want to give my money to if I have a choice, and I have a choice.  At the conclusion of the call, she informed me I could take a brief survey if I would like to provide SRP feedback regarding the call.  I held the line and took a very brief survey and gave the highest marks on all questions, including how was the customer service, was my issue resolved and did the customer service rep well-represent SRP.

Which of these situations represents your company?  Do you know?  Are your monitoring your customer service? Do you know how your employees are treating your customers?  Do you survey your customers to ask them how satisfied they are?  Do you have “spotters” call your customer service and test them?  Do you train your employees how to deliver customer service?  If you don’t know the answer to these questions, I encourage you to move it up the priority list – the answer to these questions will impact your bottom line.  Don’t give your customers a reason to seek out your competitors.

If you have any customer service stories to share, or recommendations as to how to take your customer service to the next level, leave a comment and share with us.

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