Are your customers getting a helping hand or the cold shoulder?
The great thing about big American businesses is that they give us many of the stories that become the fabric of our lives. Frankly, we’d rather not endure the circumstances that result in the stories, but like train wrecks and tornados, they are entirely unforgettable and we talk about them for years. I’m talking about customer service horror stories, of course.
We all have many of them. The stories get particularly interesting when they relate to monopolies or near monopolies, otherwise known as oligopolies. Why? Because any interactions we have with such firms are biased from the get-go by the distrust we have for important players in our lives over whom we have little influence and control. We feel victimized before we even pick up the phone to attempt to do business with them. From their business perspectives, this should present them with an interesting challenge: how do we make our customers trust and love us, so that they won’t find ways to live without us? Unfortunately, such firms rarely seem to rise to the challenge.
A good example would be a very unpleasant run-in I had recently with my oligopolist ISP (Internet Service Provider). The setup for the story is that I moved about six months ago. I called my ISP during the move to have them disconnect DSL at my old address and transfer it to my new address-simple enough. Six months later, still no DSL; however, my credit card bill continues to be charged. I decided to give them a call, but having already called them three times previously in recent months, it’s fair to say I was already not in the best of moods and pessimistic about the quality of service I would receive. Suffice it to say that they lived down to my expectations. The customer service interactions went like this: