Thought Starters

QOTW 2013: Week 31: I can’t help you. I just work here!

When did it become justifiable for simple competence to be a benchmark for success?

A long time ago when I was a pup in the Interior Design industry I worked for a fledgling firm that was just making its way into the world of design. The owners were already somewhat seasoned but hadn’t had a ton of experience running and managing an Interior Design firm.

They are doing just fine.

The reason I bring this up is that I remembered a moment in time when I was on my way to a client meeting with one of the principals who said to me, “Ralph, you have to understand that in this industry we are in servitude.”

Servitude, huh?

Well, at the time, as a design consultant, I had an issue with the notion of servitude.

I still do.

It’s the wrong way to describe the service we bring to our clients but what that comment did make me realize is that if we are not exceptional at servicing our clients we wouldn’t be working for too long. Certainly there are many, many factors to getting work, keeping it and being sought after.

Many, many factors.

The choices I made in my career as an Interior Designer have always lead me to offer the best service I can. Making intelligent choices, keeping my client’s informed of their options, offering the best solutions based on the constraints and managing expectations have driven what I have done over the past 20 plus years.

That, my friends, is how I roll.

Thereby, you can’t possibly imagine how frustrated I was with a recent experience with our local Telco, Rogers Cable. You see, we decided to change our cable service and in the process discovered that we had been paying, every month, for a piece of rental equipment that we no longer had in our possession.

It’s been 65 months!

Now, before you say anything I have to ask you this. Do you examine your bills that closely? We have been paying our bill on-line for what seems like forever and honestly we didn’t often look at the details of the bill that closely.

The overall charge totaled quite a healthy sum so we started what can only be called “the dance” with Rogers Cable. The calls began. Each at least 30 minutes and each time my frustration built up more and more. You see, instead of trying to help me I simply got transferred around until I was told I could not be helped. The best that anyone was able to offer me was a 3 month rebate.

3 months out of a 65 month error!

To say the least I was appalled!

I took me 5 separate attempts and a discussion with a senior manager in their so called Customer Care group in order to get the 3 month credit offer. I was on the receiving end of a variety of comments from a series of Customer Care professionals (Ha! Professionals?) such as:

  • Why did you pay your last bill then?
  • It’s your responsibility to check for errors on your bill.
  • I don’t have authorization to look at your account past 6 months.
  • I can’t help you. You will need to speak to someone else.
  • After asking who I should speak to I was told, “I don’t know, sir. I can’t advise you on whom to speak to.”

Are you getting the picture?

Now, I know not everyone has the authority to credit accounts but the attitude of the last person who I spoke with drove me to the height of my frustration. I ended the call by asking if they would like to help me one last time. If not, I was going to the media and every consumer advocacy group I could find to get help.

The next day we received an apologetic email from Customer Care offering a larger sum of money as a consolation.

It was not a choice.

It was their best offer.

End of story.

This experience has simply increased my awareness to the important role customer service plays in a successful business.

Rogers Cable will never get our business again.

Ever.

They don’t care but I do. Treating people as fairly as I can is important to me and I have learned a valuable lesson from their incompetence.

Something like that will never happen under my watch.

Ever.

That brings us to today’s quote.

 

There’s not much I can say about Jeff Bezos that hasn’t been said. Is it too obvious to choose such a success story? Maybe but unlike the oligopoly that today’s Telco’s possess he has made his mark by providing us what we need and by making the experience pleasant and easy to manage. Hey, I am not advocating for Amazon. I simply thought the quote was appropriate. Amazon is also a giant corporation which could treat its customers with disdain.

Yet, they don’t.

Take it away Mr. Bezos.

 

If that doesn’t brighten your day then maybe this will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great Monday and an awesome week.

If you want to read last week’s quote simply click here.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

About this Author: Ralph Dopping (195 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday: www.designdialog.ca


14 comments
MRTraska
MRTraska

Yes, it's an education in bad customer service, and they lost a customer -- not to mention that they also get bad word of mouth now. too.  And yes, you're supposed to read your bill -- but they're also not supposed to be so incompetent that they let an error on their part go on for 65 months.  After all, they wouldn't have let an error of underpayment on *your* part go one for more than 30 DAYS, now would they?  All of which gives you grounds for a complaint to your state attorney general's consumer fraud division.  They owe you that money, and not giving it to you is equal to stealing it.  It's fraud on their part.  Multiply thaat by who knows how many customers, and I'd bet your attorney general would be interested.And let *that * -- complaining to the right person at the right time, in the most effective (i.e., punitive) way -- be a lesson in consumer revenge against bad service and fraud.

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Great post! I recently spent over 3 hours on the phone with Rogers, 9 different people, in a desperate attempt to purchase a new data package for my time in the US. A package I could find clearly labelled on their website. Yet...no one could add it for me. Not one of the 9 people I spoke/chatted with. They kept telling me the only way for me to make that purchase was to add it to my account myself, yet when I tried to do so, kept getting an error message. Finally, after 3 hours, I found a woman who cared enough to help me. NOW- did this help come in the simple form of adding this package I wanted to my account and charging me for it? NO! Ultimately no one could figure out how to charge me for an item listed on their website, and eventually credited me for the equivalent in data FREE! Not that I mind getting something free, but honestly- I wanted to pay for a service listed on their site as available, and not one of them knew how to charge for it. Amazing. 

BetsyKCross
BetsyKCross

I enjoy working with people who value the customer and go above and beyond what he/she's paying for. And I love that type of person who gives that kind of service just because that's how they live their life - in excellence! It's refreshing and energizing to work with people who love what they do and work hard...just because! Why spen a day of your life giving anything but your best? (Getting paid well helps.)

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Hey, Ralph - an individual who possess the mind and perspective of servitude, also possess the power of the universe to build and/or create the future for other people.  

 

Most folks can't see 2 feet in front of their face when it comes to serving others; they're too busy dealing with their own set problems and aspirations in life (their own little world), than to deal with the problems and aspirations of other people. A big fat miss here if you desire to do something significant with your life... You have to possess and mind and vision for it, or it will never even be a second thought.

 

This is one rub I have with big business. It has no heart & soul... That left when the founder of that cable franchise in your city took stock and cash from a big company, in exchange for his local cable franchise.  

 

I'm not going to trash big business here, I just think the future will powered by leaner social businesses who can effectively cater to their customers.

 

When you get too big, experiences like the one you had (a valued customer gets shit on) occurs often... They understood their big mistake and tried to use money to make it go away... The problem is, once you stomp on a customers trust, you've lost their respect and business forever. 

 

There is definitely disruption happening all around us everyday - a significant global shift that is changing everything in respect society, business and the future of the world. How cool is that, Ralph?

 

 

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Hey @RebeccaTodd unfortunately and sadly there are many, many folks like you. And me. I would watch my bills closely over the next few months and see how the actually respond to free. I say that because we just got a bill from Rogers which is for returned equipment. The same equipment we got the rebate for. It's astounding. I think theories systems are structured to mess with people and if you're not smart enough or too lazy to challenge them it's your loss. Bastards! Now, the apple may still be shiny but we had some issues with Bell when we first joined but we were lucky to get a tech who gave us his cell no. in case we had further issues. We did. He came and fixed our service interruption the same day. NO CHARGE. Now why can one Telco empower their people to do the right thing and not others. Thank gawd for Bell.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

All good thoughts @BetsyKCross Too bad it's the exception and not the rule. You know, the bigger they get the tougher it is to get good service. Let's just hope Amazon and Zappos change the game for more big companies. We had an awesome experience with a franchisee of a huge auto repair company, Speedy Glass, where we were so well treated I sent a letter to the company thanking them for the exceptional service. Stuff like that needs to happen a lot more than it does, doncha think? Thanks for dropping by. Hope you are well.

MRTraska
MRTraska

 @Mark_Harai It's not **servitude** -- that implies involuntary service (slavery, if you like) by someone treated as a lesser individual.  What you're talking about is SERVICE.  There's a world of difference in those two terms.  Good service is always important.  Unfortunately, some people -- and companies -- expect servitude from others when they're only entitled to good service.  That's the *other* side of the coin.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Hey, Ralph - when I refer to small, I'm referring to businesses with $100 million or less in revs, which includes many businesses with 600+ employees...

 

Business in the future will go to firms/ agencies/ business who are well know for delivering high caliber products & services, and provide the best customer service in their industries. 

 

Social will influence buying decisions at a greater level as people get used to (more comfortable) doing business in this fashion. 

 

Right now, there's still a mixed batch of analog oldies and digital babies... At some point, all the dinosaurs will be gone and the entire market will be run by digital touch points.

 

Things seem to be going this direction pretty dang fast....

 

Cheers,

 

Mark

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Agreed @Mark_Harai I don't think you have to be small to get it. I do and I work in a 600 person firm. I also have the leeway to service my customers well without much red tape. There are many other examples of that out there. It's just not the norm. If small is better then small will fill the gap whoever it occurs. It is very cool that there is a shift to better relate to the consumer than to just take their money. I agree that social media has opened the door to that and to a new level of accountability. We will see where it goes. Cheers.

GroTraffic
GroTraffic

 @MRTraska  @Mark_Harai This is true - however, this usually happens to companies who are motivated and in business purely from a profit and loss viewpoint.

 

If you know your core values and purpose for being in business, you'll tend to attract like-minded customers...that's been my experience anyway. This goes both ways. Every time.

 

Business is about people. Successful business is about substantive individuals and organizations coming together to build a better future through their work.

 

People who take advantage of others and are always trying to get the 'better deal' mentality don't get a side of the coin.  They're out, and if you pay attention, they'll take themselves out of the picture long before a transaction is even a consideration.

 

They suck the value proposition right out of "good business."

 

Cheers, Traska : )

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Hey  @Mark_Harai it looks like we have a lot to look forward to and be thankful for. I hope part of that rosy future includes incredible customer relations and relationships. How can it not, right?

rdopping
rdopping moderator

@GroTraffic @MRTraska @Mark_Harai Completely agree MR. This is Mart's comment so I will let him respond but thanks for reading and taking the time to chime in. There's no better market research and learning platform than a blog. I always appreciate the point of view any reader offers. Cheers.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

 @rdopping Well in a nutshell, I think social/ mobile tech provides businesses a lot more ways to deliver amazing to customers, and weed out those who don't.  The future will be rosy for some, and the worst nightmare for others; such is life...

 

Have a great evening, Sir! : )