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Bad Customer Service Turned Around

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It's all in who you know... Or can get to Know!

Yesterday I had a customer service issue that warranted my immediate attention. I had ordered a product that I desperately needed that was now about 6 weeks overdue the original back ordered date. I had made numerous calls to both the local and the national vendor over the past few weeks and had received different answers every single time. I had gotten the run around from corporate, from the local vendor, tried to make complaints on line and their server was down, and had left phone messages that had gone unreturned. I had been strung along, lied to and ignored. I was livid by the time I got them on the phone to let me know that it would now be another 10-14 days.

I told the woman that I trained in customer service and sales and that I also wrote and spoke nationally about companies. I told her that I was able to get this organization that I'm ordering through to cancel them as a vendor, but that I heard they had been very responsive towards some of the hurricane victims which I applauded. But that their service was unacceptable and that I was appalled they'd let someone fall through the cracks like they did. I asked what they were going to do for me to help ease my annoyance. She came back to the phone telling me the manager authorized a $5 gift certificate!

WHAT?? A $5 gift certificate? You think THAT is going to pacify me after waiting an extra 7-9 weeks for this item that I needed 8 weeks ago? I told her to please tell her manager that what would make me happy would be to order me two new free items. I told her that I'm not the type of customer that will go away; that I'm the one who will make sure there is change in the company. I told the lady I knew it wasn't HER fault, but to please pass along to the manager that I expected her to compensate me MUCH more for my loss of time and frustration.

After I hung up, I steamed for a bit. I was outraged that a national company would treat a customer in such a manor. Before long though I got my bearings and figured that the national customer service manager would be the one to call. He is located out west and so I called and politely explained to the lady who answered that I had been given the run around for the past 7 weeks and was completely fed up. I said I needed a manager because now I was past the point of no return and I needed someone to really step in and help me.

Along came Jeff. Jeff had a deep and booming voice, was friendly from the start and listened to my concerns without arguing. He apologized to me and said it's happened before, it unacceptable and then explained to me WHY they had had such problems. He said there was NO excuse but told me about the manufacturing backups they had had, the short staff, the new customer service telephone system and how it was working and how it was still in the trial phase. He even mentioned that I probably didn't NEED to know all of these details but just wanted to let me know that they WERE aware of the problem but that no one should be treated like I was.

I offered some suggestions to him about changing their voice mail, to ask for people's patience during this time of transition. I said that people are more than willing to be patient if they know that there is a problem that is in the works of being fixed. If you IGNORE the problem, then the customer feels like they're the ones being ignored, or the only ones falling through the cracks. Imagine if thousands of customers felt like that. That would make for one UNHAPPY customer service department!

Jeff listened, thanked me for my suggestions and then offered me to credit my account. He promised that he would personally take on the responsibility of getting my items to me. He gave me his personal line and told me to call him any time I had any problems. I thanked him and felt gratified.

I hung up and felt like I had been taken seriously. I felt like someone listened, and I felt happy that he compensated me for my frustration and at least part of the time I had spent chasing down their product that I desperately needed.

I wonder what would happen if each employee had the power to do what Jeff did? I wonder if they allowed all of their employees to "personally" take care of every customer with a complaint. Better yet, what if they tried to exceed EACH customer's expectations BEFORE the problems?

But since they were attempting to catch up with their problems and rectify them, I had to give them a break. I hope they realize though in the interim, that they can educate the customers to what the issues are, and invite them to remain patient during this time of transition.

As a customer, I was ready to go to town getting their whole account cancelled from the organization to which I belong. I know the president of the organization who I might be able to convince to change vendors in the long run. That would have been literally thousands and thousands of dollars that the company would have lost.

Instead, I got the RIGHT guy on the phone who knew how to make me happy. He quieted me down, he compensated me for my frustration and he gained my respect along the way. He carried out the procedures their customer service training program should be teaching all their employees.

Sometimes, it’s all in who you know, or can GET to know that matters!

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