There isn’t a company out there that doesn’t claim “customer service” as the one unique characteristic that sets them apart. Yet as consumers, we continue to experience customer service nightmares, which at best, are as “sit-com” worthy.
For example, my latest conversation with the “telephone lady” (oh, I sense an immediate connection here): I’d called with a legitimate question. We’d set up a 2-year contract that included a cell phone, but the phone up and died 6 months before the end of the contract. Silly me assumed that somehow the phone company would cover the cost of replacing phone, especially when the sale rep who inspected the phone announced cheerily, “Yup, the motherboard is fried.”
The call started on a high note, “How can I help you today?” (customer training 101). But the voice on the other end of the call quickly lost some momentum I asked my question. In fact, I was now the one answering the questions.
“Did you check your contract? Did you read the part about a phone breaking down?”
I withered, of course. As much as I love reading pages and pages of telephone service fine print, no, I hadn’t remembered the part about the phone not being covered after a year. Or the clause applies to every customer who calls if the phone is just faulty.
I tried another approach. Silly question number two: so if I’m renewing my contract AND paying for a new phone with your company, the why is there an additional $15 fee on top of the phone?”
“That’s because you’ve upgraded the phone.”
“But I didn’t want to upgrade the phone. The one I wanted broke, and now isn’t available”
“Yes, and that’s why you agreed to the $15. It’s also in the contract. Did you read…”
Okay. She had me. I wasn’t going to win this one. As we finished the call (that is, I agreed that no, I hadn’t read the fine print and yes, I’d pay because what am I going to do anyway?) she asked the ultimate question.
“So before we go, can you tell me if you’ve been happy with the service I’ve provided you today?”
“Well, not really.”
There was silence. She tried again,
“But were you satisfied with the service I was able to provide?
“Well, no, I mean, I understand the answer. But I can’t say that I’m happy or satisfied. Let’s jus leave it at that. (The last sentence I just thought in my head.)
She made a final attempt, “Were you able to get the answer you wanted?”
Foiled again. Of course it wasn’t the answer I wanted.
If finally just thanked her (and because I’m Canadian, apologized, then hung up).
The take-away to those in customer service? Sometimes you have to go off script. It may seem like dangerous territory but you got to go there.
If you need further inspiration, check out The Office when Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) replies to every customer who calls.
“Customer service, this is Kelly. Oh my God, I’m so sorry. That is so messed up. Everyone here is so upset; you have no idea. And rest assured, your voice has been heard. Okay, I’ll be thinking about you all day.” Click. Ring. Repeat.