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9 Replies Latest reply: May 13, 2012 11:31 AM by Peter23 RSS

Where has the customer service gone?

Expert
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Recently, I had a situation where, as a consumer, I found myself unhappy with a very necessary, health related product purchase. As I attempted to resolve my issues in the most positive and polite manner possible I found myself feeling increasingly “unimportant”, much like my satisfaction, though desired, was not really a priority. The company was willing to make the necessary modifications but only under certain circumstances and in an unspecified timeframe that suited their schedule. My concerns, desires and time constraints were, at best, second place.

 

I was raised in a society where “the customer is always right” and when warranted, I utilized my “consumer status” to rectify problems, usually with positive results from businesses who wanted to keep my patronage. I made sure to never abuse the process and only complained when a product was truly unsatisfactory or misrepresented. With medical concerns, the situation was assessed and scheduling at a facility was prioritized according to need and necessity. If my case was emergent, I never had a problem getting expedited care.

 

However, in this day and age, businesses seem to be focused solely on their bottom line. Those who spent years serving the consumer now serve themselves first. In the medical field, patients are often double or triple scheduled, as I was told, to eliminate the gaps (read: lost revenue) caused by last-minute cancelations and actually seeing a physician now resembles sheep being shuffled through the collective turnstiles rather than the comfortable, personal feeling it once held. Furthermore, the definition of “emergent” has appeared to evolve as well over the years and things that were once considered important, like a painful toothache, now garner a two to three month waiting period to be addressed.

 

Generating as much revenue ergo as much profit as possible has appeared to replace the tedious task of maintaining customer loyalty. It’s as if there are now so many potential consumers to go around that corporate America no longer cares to satisfy one consumer’s needs … if one is lost, three more new consumers will come along to fill that loss. Is that the case? Has our satisfaction become expendable? As society continues to expand exponentially, has the supply of consumers become so great that our value has depreciated in the eyes of the companies with whom we do business?

 

Playing “Devil’s Advocate”, I wonder if we, the consumers, didn’t do this to ourselves. As our budgets tightened like nooses around our necks, perhaps we became greedy in our demands, trying every angle we could to get something for nothing including being rude when the provider refuses to placate us, finally puts their foot down and says, “Hey, enough already!

 

As I watch corporations put their brands out there in the social media world, I continue to notice two primary trends with consumers. They are as quick to voice complaints, sometimes in the rudest of ways, as they are to request (and often demand) coupons, price cuts and special discounts. Since the inception of social media’s popularity as a marketing tool, I have personally witnessed many threats by consumers to change brands. And the irony of it is that in most cases, these are empty, idle threats leveraged by completely unmotivated consumers who aren’t going to change anything solely in an attempt to get something for free. Sadly, they are now so commonplace that they are no longer taken seriously. Have we become the spoiled child too used to getting our way by stomping our feet and, if so, has this attitude that we are owed some type of compensation for our patronage come back to bite us? Will we ever feel as though our loyalty means something again or has the era in which the customer was “always right” seen its time pass?

 

Much the same as the ageless conundrum regarding the chicken and the egg, I’m not sure which decayed first, customer service or consumer manners. But I do know that, at some point, like the fictional Alice, customer service has taken a tumble down the proverbial “rabbit hole” and landed in some fractured parallel world where the buyer/seller relationship is almost dysfunctional.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

~Moni

  • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
    LUCKIEST Master
    Currently Being Moderated

    My thoughts on customer service.

    Like so much else, customer service has gone downhill and almost disappeared.

    We recently bought a new SAAB. Last week we took the car in for service to the local VOLVO -saab dealer.

    \YES the dealership was 90 % Volvo, maybe 10 % saab. And the customer service person kept laughing at us

    like YOU BOUGHT A SAAB.

    Back to your question of customer service. Retailers are coming to terms with the new consumer

    who traded down and has not come back.

    Consumers now shop with lists.

    Grocery sales of private brands are up.

    The economy has turned essential goods into luxuries.

    Parents are spending LESS on their children.

    SAD, but IT IS A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME.

    • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
      Expert
      Currently Being Moderated

      Thanks for the response, Luckiest! That is an interesting viewpoint I hadn't thought of ... that we are a different type of consumer now. Food for me to ponder.

       

      Come on, Community! I know there are more of you out there with thoughts and insights into the topic of Customer Service. I am waiting to hear from you!

       

      ~Moni

  • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
    DannyDigital Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    The last several years the lack of customer service has made me into a relentless consumer that won't take the abuse. I just found it that many companies are only focused on the bottomline and more money. They don't care about customer service because for one it costs more. I also believe this partly impacting our economy for one looking at myself, I no longer purchase freely, anything has to pretty much prove to me that it will worth the money even a $2 Starbuck cup.

     

    Customer service starts for one at the service and products companies sell and produce, if they are producing an inferior product more people will complain and the worse it will get. People will be excited for great products and service which will go far. For example, now a days you pay over $100 for a sneaker, the sneaker company however replace "real" leather for "pleather" which is cheaper for them and is just plain cheap. Sneakers do not hold up like they used to but yet these companies increase their price for a more inferior product. So I no longer buy them.

     

    Or cable, I had so many problems with a "major" cable provider with their service being so bad that I had to call every other day, they would send unknowledable techs over and over and the call center is just worse, I cringed when I had to call them. Also the fake "I really understand your concern" line that companies now use, adds more insult to the injury. Don't act like you are great and sympathetic when in the end our conversation lead to nowhere. Pricing is increased, their response to me was "We have upgraded our systems and service". However, I had not experienced any increase of anything the last few years my On Demand would never work, internet would go in and out, and the channel guide would be wrong most of the time and lastly they raised the price of my cable box $2.50 per month which was 8 years old!! So I did not get the "Upgrades of product and feature" answer.

     

    Companies bank on their customer being stupid. As a consumer I am totally fed up, I cancelled pretty much any service I could, I no longer purchase much unless I REALLY need it because I refuse to play along. I have no problem paying more if I know I get what I pay for but 90% time it is not the case and then dealing with the Customer Service is a nightmare. They do not realize that they are actually wasting their customers time. Time is money, I do not have 1 hr to talk to a rep so they can feed me senseless info that they read of a script.

     

    If companies would actually focus on creating quality products and services, stand by them and let it speak for itself. I think people would be a lot more willing to spend more like myself and would be a lot more patient if something doesn't work but unfortunately it is no longer so.

  • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
    CorpCons08 Master
    Currently Being Moderated

    Honestly, the consumer is the reason that businesses have evolved in terms of customer service. Consumers are constantly trying to con the business owner to "get something over on them." This includes falsified returns, using products to meet their needs then demanding returns, etc.

     

    One of the retailers I represent, reported consumers that come in with cash-based purchase receipts, pick the products up off the shelf that are listed on the receipt, then go to the register and attempt to return the merchandise.

     

    These kind of cons or scams have made retailers rethink their customer service policies, and start to defend against the losses they are suffering. Businesses still want to serve customers, and provide them with the highest levels of customer service that they can. However, this customer service has to be split to allow for a careful eye on potential loss.

     

    I always feel bad for a consumer who suffers bad customer service, and in your case Moni, I do feel for you. My recommendation to all consumers is to just be patient. Businesses will take care of their customers if the situation calls for it.

     

    Regards,

     

    Dan

    • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
      DannyDigital Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Dan, I can agree with you to some extent but at the same time, I feel that I am a good customer that is willing to pay top dollar for a good product that comes with good service. However for the last few years, I feel that a lot of products I purchased were either poorly manufactured or deliberate made to fail after a certain time period so that a new product needs to be purchased. I totally cringe when I have to call AT&T, Comcast, and yes even sometime Bank of America for the simple fact that it feels like that their customer service department is more like a deterrent than a solution. Majority of times they solve absolutely nothing and you wind having to go in personally anyway and then they have attitudes as you owe them. What happened to Customer is King. I do understand that you have those that try to get over. But I have no problem with stricter return policies to prevent fraud.

       

      My issue is simply that when there is a problem that there will be a solution. Don't telll me that I spilled water on my device when I didn't just so you do not have to replace my defective device. Don't offer to sell me a warranty when you are not willing to do what it says. Don't charge me more for something that is 8 years old and totally outdated and tell me it is because of upgraded features that I don't have. I called HSBC the other day and I felt like I talked to a robot that didn't understand my question but answered me by reading a script for something else. I emailed them a typo on their website and they replied to me that they need to get my account number in order to help me? And yes it is more prevalent by big business as smaller ones really rely on repeat business but a lot of time they rely on the big businesses to produce quality product so they don't have to deal with the backlash.

       

      So as I stated before, if companies focus on creating quality products that are made to last instead of trying to cut cost so they can squeeze every single penny by using cheap parts which are prone to break quickly then maybe customers have no reason to constantly complain. Just a suggestion and maybe train and give reps the authority to fix things, most hide behind that a manager needs to be called but unfortunately is not available.

      • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
        CorpCons08 Master
        Currently Being Moderated

        Danny,

         

        I can understand some of your points here. Yes, manufacturing has gone to the dogs in the last, let's say five years. Costs are being cut by providing inferior products or not fully assembling things properly. However, I do feel that retailers have been stepping up their game by providing warranties that cover what the manufacturers don't want to. I have purchased products from Staples with their warranties, and without any questions, if I have a problem they seem to take care of me quickly and to the level of service I expected when I purchased the warranty. I even bought a 3D Television from a place called 6th Avenue Electronics here in NY. I had the television for about a week and it crapped out on me. I called the retailer, and told them I had a problem and bought the warranty. They pulled up my file, sent out a new television, and their guys even removed the old set and setup the new set in my house without even asking. They tested everything and when I went to tip them, they turned it down saying it was part of their customer service. WOW! Now, not all retailers have been that way. Best Buy has been the complete opposite. I don't think you could pay them enough to give a shit lol.

         

        With banking, I see you have had some bad customer service experiences. Unfortunately, I really don't understand where the lack of customer service has come from there. I feel that any time I have a question, my bank goes out of their way to provide top notch service. If I go to a local branch, I am greeted, asked to have a seat. They ask me what I'm there for, and whether it's just making a simple deposit or performing account maintenance, they seem very happy to assist me.

         

        Regards,

         

        Dan

        • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
          DannyDigital Newbie
          Currently Being Moderated

          Hi Dan

           

          The sad part that really throws me in our country for one is that our economy is taking a major hit and job market is crap but then we blame everybody else under the sun for these problem but in my opinion. I really feel that the root of the problem was created by these big corporations and us as citizens. You stated buying a retailers warranty, I think it is quite amazing that I just can't buy an item and get a quality product, yet I have to pay someone else to insure the product just so I can get regular usage out of it. I really think it is a problem.

           

          The corporate greed is a major factor in my opinion that got us into this mess. The addiction to "Profit" has them totally neglecting that point that if a customer is happy, they may come back and buy more. Yet these corporation want to skimp on anything they can, to increase their profit and bottomline. Yes you should make money but I also think that there is an ethical way of doing it. You can't possibly think that it is okay to make a consumer pay more for your product but yet you are totally  short changing them from what they are suppose to get. I see that as unethical and immoral. Companies should focus on making a BETTER product with better features, longer lasting than maybe people would flock to their products.

           

          I used to buy nothing but Mac's because they were made to last and I didn't have to worry about viruses, etc. I totally felt that PC's were built to only last 2 years and that is it. It appears to be that everything is built disposable just to get these consumers to go out and buy new stuff. You see it now with the iPhones, the Iphone 3 came out 2 years ago, now with the 4 and 4s, they created iOS 5 which totally doesn't work on the 3. So everybody that has a 3 is left out cold no support no nothing. They just want you to buy the new one, yet you don't qualify for upgrades every 2 years but they keep coming out with new stuff every 6 months.

           

          I totally would pay more for something that I know will last forever and in addition I would buy all of their stuff if I knew the company does good quality stuff. So in economic you may not have to keep coming up with news stuff every 2 months because your stuff is good for years to come.

           

          Yes I had so much grief with banks, yes the tellers may be nice but it doesn't mean much if they are not willing or able to help with your problem just because you say "I am sorry" or "I totally understand and I would be upset too" it is the "But there is nothing we can do" what drives me up the wall. Matter of fact I had a major issue with BofA, I have several accounts and I keep one as my day to day account where I do not keep a lot of money in case someone steals my card, number or identity theft, so they can't get much out of it. Anyways, there was a company where I canceled the service awhile ago but they winded up charging my card without my authorization for a decent sum which created an "overdraft", I immediately contact the company and had a run around and they were suppose to initiate a refund which would take several days or so (I wasn't sure if there would be additional problems". So, when I checked my account I was immediately charged overdraft fees on a "pending" charge. So my question to BofA was as I had a discussion with a Banker before about charges that are considered "pending" which means that they are not cleared or paid yet. So when I contacted BofA to 1. report the unauthorized charge 2. I questioned them about charging a fee on something that hasn't even cleared or paid yet. To make a long story short. I was told by the representitive that I couldn't dispute the charge until it cleared because it technically hasn't been paid yet but yet I was charged 3 or 4 NSF fee's due to this charge. Eventually I was told if the refund appeared I would be reimbursed for all the charges but my question was what if I never called. They would have charged $140 for something that wasn't suppose to be in the first place. That entire call exhausted me and it was a primary example how these companies just sit and wait to collect on something that isn't even theirs yet.

           

          I could go on and on about Comcast, AT&T, etc. I switched from Comcast to Directv, I totally love it. I actually pay more than what I was paying at Comcast but I feel what I am getting is totally worth it and it made me feel that Comcast was ripping me off all this time. As a customer give me the value back on the money I spend, then you deserve my repeat business. You are NOT entitled to my money simply because you have a company.

           

          We as people nowadays want everything to be given to us on a silver platter but not put forward an effort. I hear all this hoopla about no jobs, We have been trying to hire people for over a year and have plenty of positions open but the issue is that all these people do not have the qualifications and they are not trying to get these qualifications. They simply feel that they should get the job because they are applying. That is not how it works, we had people that took our test the first and failed to reapply 6 - 8 months later and take teh exact same test and do worse!

           

          So I really put our current crisis on us, corporate greed and entitlement. We need to feel that we need to earn your business each and everytime. Remember where there use to be a slogan "Customer is King", I understand that there many bad apples but I think there is a way to weed those out. The problem is that they just try to get as many customers as they can like Walmart. I totally hate that store, it is a total mess but people go there for the cheap prices which are actually not that cheap. I go and pay more just to be in a neat store with short lines, good customer service.

  • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
    OfficeGoddess Expert
    Currently Being Moderated

    As a consumer, I have decided to 'vote' with my wallet.  I treat company customer service the same way I try out a new restaurant.  If the food is mediocre the first time, I'll give them a second chance in case they are having an 'off' night.  If the food is still mediocre the second time, I won't go back.  And, if a company's  customer service is poor once, I'll give it another shot.  Second time just as bad, I'll find somewhere else to spend my money.  I have been at the same bank for 14 years and opened 5 accounts with them because their customer service is second to none and yet acompany I work with changed banks three times in 6 years because they were treated so poorly (they now bank where I do based on my recommendation and are happy there, too).  I shop at Bed, Bath and Beyond and pay considerably more than Target because BBBs customer service is stellar and Target's stinks!  If more consumers stopped tolerating poor customer service, even to the point of paying more for better customer service, maybe companies would get a clue.  Unfortunatly, I often hear things along the lines of 'that's just the way it is so I put up with it."  It is up to us as consumers to complain long and loud enough to make a change back.  In a global economy, we have to stand out above the world.  I beleive going back to providing excellent customer service should be our hallmark.

  • Re: Where has the customer service gone?
    Peter23 Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Moni i agree the customer service is very low for example some times its that low that people can even get injured my friend recently set this site up for people who have been injured by accidents relate to either low customers service that may of caused the accident example leaving objects out and customers slipping over them his site is accident at work . Alls i can say is new companies need to be coverd because if customers do get injured they will end up claiming compensation.

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