Where has all the good service gone?
I was thinking about all the different customer service people that I have had to work with this week. This is really been a normal week, as far as needing help from others, and the companies they work for. So I think it is a good sample set of what I’ve experienced as a whole for the past year.
I really think that customer service in general is not getting much better for many companies, although not a hard rule for every single company. It does make you wonder sometimes, when you have a poor experience, how these companies ever stay in business. Here are my examples:
Comcast cable internet – Our cable modem has required a reboot a couple times a day, in order to get a useful connection. The internet is important to us, we have our phone line over the internet (VOIP), I use it constantly for work, we watch movies and get the news, and do a fair amount of shopping on it. Either way, I had to spend 30 minutes on their instant chat with Comcast, trying to convince them that our line was down. I was on my aircard and not using their service, and it must have blown their mind. It took a fair amount of time just to show them that I could not really use the internet service that they were trying to provide. I finally asked if they could even ping my modem, and she finally admitted that she could not. I called and got some phone time with a tech support person, who just encouraged me to return my modem at their store. At the store I was asked to carry the modem box out to their garbage, as she did not feel responsible for doing it. The new modem did not work fully, as port 80 inbound was blocked. I tested it several times, and tried for over an hour before calling them again. Tech support said they have never blocked ports, and that I was wrong. I can find thousands of web posts showing that they do in fact block port 80 inbound, and they also limit band width on other ports. After another 20 minutes on the phone, port 80 now works, even though they say they did nothing.
Apple – My work bought some Mac hardware, so we can write some iPhone apps. This is definitely a big learning curve for all of us, as we have not used Mac stuff before, let alone programmed for one. I needed the development suite to start programming and learning the language. I hit Apple’s web site, and tried to download the free software. It prompted me to enter my appleID, which I have and use all the time, for iTunes and my iPhone. When I hit the ‘login’ button, it asks for my username and password again, and again, and again. Their web page is clearly broken. I spend 3+ hours reading through web blog posts all about the error, and people’s magic work around tricks. I try them all with no luck. I try 4 computers, 4 different operating systems, 3 different web browsers and finally give up. I call the tech support for apple, and am told that the site works fine, just clear your cache and it will work. I email the developers support, that we have paid for, and get the same crappy service. It is clear that hundreds of people cannot download the software, for several months, and yet Apple does nothing, but give the same stupid suggestions, rather than fixing their web site.
Best Buy – A few weeks ago, I go to BestBuy to get a GPS enabled phone. I asked the clerk if they have the Nokia 12345. ( I don’t know what one it was, but that is not important. ) He says no, and we walk over to the phone area together. He tells me that they have never had a GPS phone, that is the type I want, and that they don’t really make them. He just walks away, leaving me their to choose for myself. On the first shelf, 2 feet from where he stood, was 8 boxes with of the Nokia 12345! It has a huge sticker on it saying that it is GPS enabled. I pull it off the shelf, and go show him that he is wrong. To which he replies, “Dude, I like your shirt”. ( Because I was wearing a cool math joke shirt. ) At this point I need to go over service plans with someone, but have no confidence with this ‘service’ person. I ask his two buddies if they are more helpful, and if they know about the plans, and one of them tells me that he does not think that the phone really has a GPS in it. I thought I was in some kind of weird science experiment. I left the store mad, and I wonder how anyone can really shop there with confidence. It is clear that they don’t really teach their employees the importance of knowing what they sell, or at least being helpful.
On the other hand:
Barnes And Noble – I might as well just write 10% of my check to the ‘Church of Books’. Erika is a huge book worm, the boys are no different, and I have to admit that I own a few miles worth of books too. Needless to say, we spend some time at a book store each week. Barnes and Noble has some of the best service. I can always find an employee, and they seem to always have time to help me find what I’m looking for. They are helpful, have a smile on their face, and are willing to go the extra mile. It is no wonder that I will always make the time to drive a little further to go buy a book at that book store. BTW their website, which is also really good is at bn.com.
Produce Guy At Smith’s – This might seem silly, but here it is anyways. Yesterday the produce guy at Ream’s was throwing pumpkins off a pallet into the pumpkin pile. I watched him throw 5, and 3 of them fell on the ground and broke. He obviously could care less about his job. In contrast, the produce guy at Smith’s is cool. Every time we go there, he is keeping the area really clean, he gives the boys some bananas, and always offers something to us. He talks to the boys, asking them how their weekend is, or what game they played that day. He always asks if he can help get us anything, and I believe he would. What good service from someone that could easily not care about his work.
Well rant over. Hopefully companies can put a bit more effort to giving good service, and perhaps they would have higher sales, as people will want to actually do business there.