Good People, Bad Customer Service

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Good People, Bad Customer Service

I switched my phone line to digital. What a mistake that was. I was without phone service for a full business day. But that day waiting and the talking with phone company representatives gave me a lot of time to think about customer service. Here is what I wrote in my newsletter this morning.

That saga with the phone company got me thinking about customer service. Over the course of the day I talked to ten (count ‘em 10) people at the phone company. Some told me the number I had just called wasn’t the right one. Others looked into the problem. One person even said she knew what the problem was and that my service would be restored in an hour. That’s the last I heard from her. A few hours later I finally talked to a guy who actually got my phone working. He worked on this for about an hour. He discovered that because we had switched to digital lines at about the same time that we cancelled one of our numbers, the system got confused, and the work order was in limbo. He cancelled both orders, reentered them, and my phone worked.

I am sending a letter to his supervisor to express my appreciation for his work. (And the fact that his name is Rick has no bearing on this story.)

As much as I truly appreciate Rick’s work, I wondered why others couldn’t do what he did. All the others were friendly and expressed their concern that my phone line was dead.  That was great. Nice people. But what stopped them from fixing the problem? I think organizations miss the customer service mark by a wide margin when they focus on individual performance and exclude underlying systems issues.  If I were advising that company, I’d certainly recognize Rick’s fine work, but then I would urge them to look deeply at three things: 1. Why was there a glitch in what seemed to be a relatively simple order? 2. Why was Rick able to solve my problem when no one else could? And 3. Why, even with long voice mail menu options, was it so hard to find someone who could solve this problem?

P.S. (This new development occurred after the newsletter went out.)

11:30 AM The new system seems to have wiped my voice mail clean, so any messages that may have come in are gone. OK, I can live with that. I thought, “I’ll just set up the voice mail account again. How hard can that be?” I can be so naive. Problem is that my Google searches never resulted in finding instructions on how to set up voice mail, nor could I find a direct number to call for help.

11:40 AM I finally got someone who is trying to help me. But, once again, I am on hold while this guy – a very friendly guy, by the way – tries to find out why my phone number isn’t linking to the voice mail system . Systems I tell ya’, they need to look at their systems.

12:05 PM Nice guy just told me that he needed to elevate the call to another level. He told me that the other group would probably be back in touch within a couple of hours. And, no he couldn’t give me their direct line. (I am close to going back to two Dixie Cups and a thread. That system worked fine when I was seven.)

12:35 PM Got a call much quicker than I expect. He told me what to do. And we agreed that he’d call me back in ten minutes just to make sure everything is working. He kept his word. I truly like the people who work for this company. My phone is working, you could give me a call!

– Rick Maurer

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