Thursday, May 09, 2013

Drowning in customer service

In the past seventy-two hours, I've received three e-mails and two phone calls about a very, very small issue with a food chain. The total effort expended by the company in time, managerial effort and coupons is easily more than one hundred times the cost of the error to me. It's a bit like taking out an ant with an elephant gun.

This is on top of another call from our energy company, who wanted me to take a survey about my call to them to discuss adjusting my budget billing. I had already declined the opportunity to take a "brief survey" at the beginning of that call; now they were calling me two days later to try to get me to do it anyway?

Companies today have to deal with the immediacy and viral nature of electronic social media, and the ease with which negative stories about their products and services can be spread. After all, most people will only comment on the bad stuff, not on the good. I get it: they have an image to protect.

There has to be some sort of balance. How many people will complain loudly about something on Twitter or Facebook, solely in hopes of getting something for free? "The customer is always right" - but what about when the customer is being dishonest? How much are companies - and by extension, their customers - paying to placate people who are simply trying to con them?

While I dislike not getting any service at all, this new attitude of "placate the customer at any cost" isn't an improvement.

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