The Long & Winding Road: Technology is not enough…

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Liverpool

This past week has been a veritable ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet of customer service highs and lows and I have loved every minute of it. What made the highs and what made the lows will become evident but I can tell you, it was not the technology!

You may remember a few weeks ago I mentioned problems I was having with a mobile phone company after they had sent me a duplicate phone. Without going into too much detail, I sent e-mails 5 times in December and one public ‘tweet’ in an attempt to get some response. Sadly, no such response was made and I was left with unfinished business. In an attempt to clear the decks I contacted the service provider , the folks who would deal with the usage of the phone, and they were exemplary in all aspects. To add a little spice , the supplier of the phone had thrown a free gift into the deal and this proved to be a stumbling block for them when they did eventually speak with me. This is how the conversation went;

Me: ‘ Can you tell me why you have failed to acknowledge the 5 e-mails and one ‘tweet’ since December 5th?’

Them: ‘ We cannot close the account until you return the free gift’

Me: ‘SO , let me get this correct. You are not answering my question about your lack of service since December 5th but you will only proceed to close this account when you get your free gift back?’

Them: ‘Yes’

Me: ‘ Wow, you are telling me that you are such a cheap company that you are happy to have messed me around for 7 weeks without so much as an apology as long as you get the so called free gift back?’

Them:’ Yes’

Me:’ If you were a half decent operation you would be embarrassed by your pitiful customer service and would have apologised and told me to keep the free gift but no, you want it back and you want me to pay for the shipping!?’

Them: ‘ We need the gift back before we can close the account’

You cannot make this stuff up, it is typical of the rank bad service too many companies are churning out whilst hiding behind the e-commerce wall of anonymity. I sent the ‘gift’ back but at their expense not mine….. so I must award this weeks ‘Crappy Customer Service Award’ to A1Comms masquerading as Affordable Mobiles of Derbyshire , UK.

It has been a long time since such breathtaking arrogance has been so flaunted by a company in my experience but I am sure they are not alone. They really have NO idea how to do business and without doubt they will flounder on the rocks before too long. Oh and by the way, it is either a free gift or it is not…tightwads!

So there we have it , now lets look at the next case of dodgy service. I have been looking recently for a new business bank account and decided after looking on the relevant websites to go to two banks. The first bank went like this:

Me:’ May I speak with somebody about opening a business account please?’

Bank:’ Please call this number and speak with them, they will make an appointment for you to see the business manager’

Me:’Oh, can’t I see anybody for a few moments now, I just a few questions to clarify the website information?’

Bank:’Sorry, the business manager ( lady then points to a glass walled office with the ‘business manager’ sitting doing very little at a desk) only does appointments’

Me:’ So I have to go home, call the number and make an appointment for me to come back in here to see the business manager ( I theatrically point at the lonely business manager in his room) sometime next week?’

Bank:’ Yes’

Me:’OK , goodbye’

Do they not want business? Are they devoid of any personal touch and business savvy? Do they wonder why people think so poorly of them? Do they even care?

I then went round the corner to the other bank and asked the same question, my response was very different.

‘Certainly sir, please take a seat and I will go upstairs and ask her to come down to meet with you to answer your questions’

It carried on on this vein throughout and needless to say they now have a new customer.

In all three of these tales , I used the websites to determine whether I was happy to ‘buy’ from the company. In two out of the three cases the companies failed miserably to provide a human to deal with me, they have totally missed the proper way to use a website. A website is a ‘door opener’ it is not the whole pie merely an important piece of it. A website can bring people through your door but it is the people you have on the frontline that make or break you. Too many companies think a website is a way to cut down on costs of employment when actually a good website should require more staff to cope with the demand.

People buy from people, they will buy from people they like and they will always come back to a company which recognises them as a human being.

Enjoy this video clip from the comedy great John Cleese, bemoaning the relationship between business and customer…

see you on the long and winding road……. Patrick

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