Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Service Industry

If I owned a Multi-million dollar business I would initiate a business motto that states, “the customer is always right.” That should make for very few problems at the customer service counter. How could an employee get confused about the procedure? The customer walks up to the cash, tells you what kind of issue their having, the customer service representative looks at their handbook, “the customer is ALWAYS right”, and together the employee and the customer work to solve the problem. Both parties are happy. The customer gets exactly what they wanted and in the process my company has hopefully provided the type of service that breeds a loyal customer base.

Nothing kills a relationship between a company and their customers quicker than a dreadful shopping exchange. I use the word “exchange” because essentially that is exactly what is happening. I am interested in a product or service the company provides and in exchange I am willing to use the money I have earned in previous business exchanges to purchase said product or service.

So, what would my rant be without a story to support it? Two years ago I purchased a TV from a company that will remain nameless (just know they are a rather large company known for their electronics). I was looking for a bargain and I was able to find a no name 37-inch flat-screen TV that was in my price range. Just as I was about to pay for my new TV the Sales Rep. asked if I would be interested in buying long-term insurance. It was something I hadn’t thought about until he asked me and I began to wonder if it was worth it. For $159.99 I would be covered for four years and if anything were to happen to my TV I could bring it back to the store and exchange it for a working product. The deal was too good to be true and while the added fee was a little steep I decided to shell out the extra cash for some added security.

So, here we are in the present day and the TV works fine, but the converter is a different story altogether. One day I woke up and my converter would not turn on my TV. No problem! I would go to the store, buy some new batteries, and my converter would work again – problem solved. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I tried several sets of batteries and the convertor still wouldn’t turn on the TV. I opened the battery pack and noticed a small amount of rust on the coils that connect to my batteries and figured that must be the reason behind the malfunction. No problem round 2! I would take my handy dandy long-term insurance plan and get a new converter.

I decided to call the store ahead of time and ask what the process would be for exchanging product, but after several phone calls I was unable to coax anyone into picking up the phone. To avoid any problems I decided to bring in the TV, all the cords, and the converter incase they were required to make the exchange. I walked in through the front door and headed towards the TV section where I met a young man and told him about my problem. I was told to wait a moment while he walked away to find, what I presumed to be, the answer. After a couple of minutes he returned and informed me to contact the customer service phone-line and they would put me in touch with the people who would conduct a repair for me. A repair? Something was awry. I decided to try one more time and after about fifteen minutes of walking around their store I was finally able to speak with someone. I told them about my insurance and how the TV works fine, but the remote looks like it has some rust on the coils – PLEASE HOLD!

I don’t think there is anything worse then waiting on hold. After another five minutes the lady on the line came back on the line and informed me that the problem with my converter has nothing to do with the company because it is “cosmetic” and will not be covered by my insurance – I’m starting to get angry. So, maybe, I started to raise my voice a little with the poor girl on the phone – it’s really not her fault. But, what’s the point of buying a no hassle insurance plan if the defective exchange is a hassle? I hung up the phone and decided to go head hunting for managers. I must have looked like a snarling beast by the time I finally found someone, “where can I find a manager!?”

The manager asked what the problem was and I went through my whole story. Finally, I was told to stand in the customer service line and he would help me out – it was about time! When I got to the counter I told the young lady about my story and that her manager was willing to help me out. By this point my frustration was at "optimum capacity" I was ready to return anything I had ever purchased at this store and cut any ties I ever shared with them.

Then something amazing happened. A young man came out with two converters in his hands and asked me to pick the one I liked more. Could this be for real? I asked the glowing figure in front of me if either remote would work on my TV and he assured me they should - I was ecstatic. After roughly two hours of frustration my sanity was restored.

Reflecting on my experience I realized the whole exchange could have gone quite differently. But, for one reason or another it didn’t and it ended up turning into what I like to call “I get angry before anything gets solved business transaction model.” Why do I have to get completely frustrated and on the brink of taking out everyone in the store before my problems are solved? If you think about it, chances are a lot of people who experience problems, warranties or not, will probably never bother to make a return. Each time they do this the company profits from their problems – Profiting From Problem (PFP) is shameless business model.

The real money is in cooperation. Happy customers are even happier to give you their money again and again. I don’t want to have to jump through hoops and leap over hurdles to get what I am looking for. I want to spend my money in a world where the company knows my happiness leads to long-term loyalty.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have some TV to watch.

1 comment:

Riccardo Lo Monaco said...

LOL - I can relate. Good stuff brother