Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I know, I know - customer service is dead

Now, I know most people say this a lot: whatever happened to customer service?

There is the usual culprit, the minimum wage service worker talking on their cell phone when you walk up to the register, then rolling their eyes and continuing their conversation. Yes, those people are annoying. But they are also getting paid like $5/hour and have to deal with crap customers. Yeah, they are wrong, but I have come to expect it.

I have been noticing, however, that this is extending to other service sectors. Like when I called my credit card company to complain about a new annual fee they imposed after 7 years without one, they were like "So?" and I said, "I want to cancel then." Their reply? "OK, bye." Or when I called the cable/internet company because the cable was STILL not working and I didn't understand why I had to (over)pay for service that is awful and intermittent at best, I had to screech "do you seriously want to keep me as a customer? I have one foot out the door." Their reply? "Well, we can fix it in a couple of weeks. Don't like that? See you."

Old capitalist/free market society equation:
product + caring about quality of product + good customer service = sales = $$ profits

New capitalist/free market/dead beat customer service equation:
product + finding ways to make product cheaper and crappier + minimum wage workers phones with no incentive to sell + indifference to product = what? crappier products that I can buy from surly workers.

I just called the alarm company and was all "We don't use the service because the keypad isn't near the door and we can't use the motion detector. I was thinking of canceling but then thought about how we could make this work better. What are my options? Can you send someone out to talk about it and look at our system?" I spoke to the upgrades departement and was totally prepared for the hard sell. I mean UPGRADES department. But it was like pulling teeth. I looked it up online and then read him each upgrade and he was all "oh, yar, that would be good." So I was all, "do you have a salesperson to come out and pitch me all the upgrades/packages after looking at our place?" Then he woke up and said "No. You can pay $800 to get what you need and an extra $10/month - I can see your system over the phone. Oh, and you can pay to have the sensors that are broken fixed. But that's another department and no, you can't schedule the fixes and the upgrades at the same time, it has to be as inconvenient as possible." I was all "um, this is kind of expensive. . .I'm not sure if it's worth that much." His reply "OK, bye."

I mean, I don't want people to bend over backwards and kiss my ass, but I sort of want customer service reps to CARE if people cancel their service/product. Even if you don't cut me a break on pricing, at least give me the shtick on why I need your product. Try, would you? I would and have. I didn't love coffee when I worked at Starbucks, but I sold the shit out of it. I mean, the company's longevity would keep me in a job, no? I used to at least make the effort to get my supervisor to soothe the unctuous customer (or at least pretend to be the supervisor). And even knew the propaganda about why our product is superior.

Am I just an old man shaking my cane? Everything was better in the olden days?