Sunday, February 25, 2007

On Custormer Service

Although there are several ways that I strive to be progressive, there are many other ways that I am simply an old fashioned guy. One of those is that I am a stickler for customer service. Lately, however, my standards for customer service have been lagging far behind those I seem to owe money too.

The other day, I was checking on an error on my American Express Credit Card. And it turned out that they had a crash on their computer, which they were working on, and that somehow my payment was registered under "payments" but not credited to my account. Needless to say, I was a little frustrated. But, because I try to be kind to customer service representatives, I was trying to be patient. Then, while we were discussing reversing late charges because of their error, I was told that my late fee would be "pardoned". This did not sit well with me. A pardon is something that one offers to a guilty person so they will not have to pay a penalty for their crime, not something that is offered to a person who is wrongly penalized for a wrongdoing. What they were offering, and rightly so, was eventual restitution, not pardon. I corrected them on this in a calm yet firm vocal cadence, and the Customer Service Person's mood immediately became more cooperative. I suppose this is partly because I prefaced my statement with "I know you are just reading from a customer service script and trying to do your job but..." Nevertheless, I began to wonder who was exactly training these folks.

Then I went into the office at my apartment complex to renew my lease. They informed me that if I decided to stay that my rent would go up but they would generously grant me a $30 "concession" if I chose to stay. I had to make a double-take as he used the word "concession". The previous ownership had used the words "discount" or "bonus", but now they are conceding me something. What a poor word to use in their customer service, especially as they are moving in thousands of dollars of fancy furniture at the expense of my raised rent? What ever happened to kindness, to customer service, to caring? Now I am left with a "concession" they are conscending to even offer me anything. I was so angry!

What trends have you noticed about customer service? Where have you been treated poorly? What has made you angry?

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