The Art and Science of Customer Service

What ever happened to great customer Service in America?

Pardon my question but it seems to have become the exception rather than the rule!

A recent flashback occurred after speaking with a representative from Sprint.

She was so polite, professional, competent and positive in communicated with me I looked around to see if I was being “ punked “ by a TV show.

I knew that was improbably because I was sitting in my house! So after she helped me with several items, and we were about to conclude I said to her, " is your service center here in Florida" ?

She paused for just the slightest moment and said; " no I’m here in the Philippines."

Now I’m sure that many of you reading this hub have been on calls where although the person was speaking English you knew they were not located in the United States. Perhaps you could barely understand them or they really were clueless in terms of successfully addressing your issue.

Needless to say, the above-mentioned occurrence was not one of them. It really got me to thinking about how rare it is to come across genuine great customer service in America.

Obviously, this is not about bashing our country but more of a " call to arms " of returning to the standard that use to be the envy of the world.

When I was “ little staypos “ before the days of the big box stores, my parents would always speak about the great service and attitude of the sales clerk or managers they encountered.

As I grew up over the years on the news and in the papers there were always stories about companies going out of the way to do the best and exceptional thing for those that would patronized their businesses. I myself could attest to the now out-of-date saying, “ the customer is always right “

What got in the " cool-aid " that American business has completely abandoned ship on this simple principle? You would think that there is somehow some secret formula to easy profits by marginalizing and alienating customers by the new landscape we now navigate in today!

Just to give you an example of an outrageous adherence to the customer being right back in the day. Once upon a time worked for a major athletic shoe retailer. I was just coming out of the military and was hired to be in their management program. Although a dream of a lifelong career in retail never quite took off it was quite an eye opening experience. I clearly remember one set of principles that was drilled during our little training class – the customer is always right, even if they were actually wrong.

The point was hammered home on the first visit from our district manager. He proceeded to tell us that managers of this national chain not only had the authority but the obligation to make sure every customer was completely satisfied with their purchase. So far so good right?

Well he went on further to say and point out in our written manual, if a mother came in with four children six months after she had purchased the shoes (and had her receipt …whew) and stated that she was unsatisfied with them we were authorized to trade them for new shoes or grant a full refund.

Now, we were trained to use judgment and encouraged to attempt to get an exchange for them but if the customer insisted then they could get their money back. Period.

Even if she would have to have the kids sit down and take the shoes off their feet that were supposedly not satisfactory!!

I'm certain the policies are not quite as liberal today, but for a time that's what was known as Outrageous Customer Service :-)

Please share your story of OCS. Maybe we’ll start a grassroots movement back to the future!


StayPos!


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Comments 18 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

I remember my first electric piano was a Rhodes 88. (Man, that sucker was heavy!). It had one dead key, which I discovered shortly after I bought it. The demo in the store didn't have a dead key; the one in the box they sold me did. I took it back, and they gave me another Rhodes 88, no problem; also a gift certificate for $10.00, that I could use for anything in the store. That's customer service! This was years and years ago. I don't think that'd happen, today.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

That would be nice - I mean if customer service meant now - what it did 20 years ago. I have had retailers hang up on me. It's terrible now!


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Paradise7,

Ahhh! An excellent example of outrageous customer service :-)

Perhaps if that happened today the most someone could expect is a service call to fix the key and they might even want to charge you for it :-(

Thanks for sharing!


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

RealHousewife,

Great to have you stop by :-)

I agree with you totally, if only we could turn the clock back 20 years we would instantly start receiving higher quality customer service.

We might even have someone pump our gas for 1.50 less per gallon hehe!

All the Best


visionandfocus profile image

visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

Haha! I like the image of you looking around your home wondering if you were being punked! Sad thing is, I'd probably do the same, as customer services up here in Canada aren't that great either. My husband and I get really frustrated with these people over the phone. Thing is, they know you're at their mercy, and you know they know, and...well, you get the picture.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi StayPos, customer service is pretty appalling here in the UK as well! I run my own business and my customers commend me on my good customer service, my simple rule is 'treat others how you want to be treated yourself' seems simple enough, now what can't everyone do it?! thanks for a great hub, really enjoyed it and voting up!


nicheguy profile image

nicheguy 5 years ago from Snowflake

I agree it has gotten very poor. I was hoping with the economic down turn that it would get better, but people are more self centered now than ever and I'm afraid that it will only get worse.

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StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Visionandfocus,

An interesting cat and mouse game customer service is these days!

They know we know as you say and it would be funny if it weren’t so sad many times.

I’m hoping to hear some examples of the exception to the rule, because I know they're in that " haystack " somewhere!

Thanks for your insight :-)


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Movie Master,

They’re you go! Doing your part to turn the tide :-) Congrats!

You know that golden rule of treating others, as you would want to be treated is tried and true no matter where we are gathered in the world :-)

Thanks for your comments.

Cheers!


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Nicheguy,

I tend to agree with you, however since it is so low, there’s really only one way to go and that up.

Let’s keep optimistic; as the recovery strengthens and companies begin to regain their footing, that better days of customer service are ahead!

Thanks for stopping by :-)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh my - I haven't seen a station where they will come out and pump your gas in years here! You might find that in areas such as Ladue - but that too seems to be antiquated:)


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Wow! That's terrific!

Wouldn't it be great if other places around the country could join Ladue " the show me state " Missouri by demonstrating "antiquated "outrageous customer service?


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

Throughly enjoyed this hub!

"customer service", or rather, the lack

of it, is a personal issue with me.

There are many, many, businesses that

I will not visit or trade with because

of this.

The humour you added to your concern

is priceless!

Hope you do a hub on " counting back change".....

I would do it myself, but it would be " angry "~~


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Dell Customer Service....need I say more? From one rep to another until I wanna beg and plead to please put an American on the line because I can only understand every other word you are saying to me! I now contact them more often via online whenever possible. Great hub!!!!


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

onegoodwoman,

Thanks for your compliment and I’m glad you enjoyed the hub :-)

You make a good point with your comment!

There is some good news however for business in this country.

In order to stand out from the crowd...... get back to giving outrageous customer service and even in tough economic times, watch the customers return and the revenues soar!


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

Sunshine625,

Thanks for compliment and adding to the conversation :-)

I feel your call center pain and frustration!

We need American business to NOT be afraid of putting native English speakers back to work too!

If the outsourced support speaks English well then that's fine.

However in many cases they’re pitching pennies and losing dollars when we can’t communicate with a representative on a customer service call!


KC Santiago profile image

KC Santiago 5 years ago from Texas

While working at a convenient store in a small west Texas twon the manager hired a local teenager out of high school. We got along and he would come in and visit on my shifts. One night while facing and cleaning he asked why I worried about doing all that, nobody else cared and was just (name of store) so why bother?

In this area people do a lot of traveling through. This is the only stop for miles where they can stop and get drinks or a fast eat while driving. This kid had recently gone to a nearby town and filled out quite a few applications wanting a better job. I asked him what would a potential employer think if they came in, no food in the deli or food that was nine hours old, no ice in the fountain machine, floors filthy, shelves in a mess, parking lot trashed, and here he was standing behind the counter staring at the walls. I asked him if one of the bosses where he applied for a job came in and saw that what he thought his chances of being hired would be. I then explained doing my job was not about the store as much as it was a bout me and what people would think of me as a person. It also had to do with the store too. The better the environment the more satisfied customers were the more business we would do, a little job security. Changed his attitude for the better. I went to visit him when he got a new job and a few of his fellow employees were very complimentary of his working habits. He told me later I helped motivate him for doing a good job no matter what the job was.


StayPos profile image

StayPos 5 years ago from Florida, USA Author

KC Santiago,

Thanks for taking the time to share this tremendous example of outrageous customer service in action!

We need our entire workforce to shift toward a more customer focused work ethic.

In addition be willing to influence others to do the same :-)

Bravo!

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