Sunday, February 1, 2015

Caveat Emptor: Customer Service Response Analyzed

When a business practices good customer service, the "face" of the business, even if it is just one single person answering a phone, takes on a persona.

For example, a business may have 500 employees, in everything from manufacturing to research to clerical.

The company may ship world wide.

Yet, if the company has a customer service department, today's expectation is the same principle as yesteryear's expectation:  polite and timely response.

This is true whether it is in the internet age of email, or a simple phone call answered.

I find this critical to a business' reputation.  A pleasant empathetic voice can make or break a company's reputation. A single, unpleasant or disrespectful  secretary can misrepresent 500 dedicated employees.  Being a "professional" means putting aside any personal issues and "putting on the work voice" and rising to the occasion of work.  It is owed, not only to the employer, but to all the fellow employees, of whom one may represent.

Recently, I had an interesting interaction with a small company.  Online reviews praise the store's incredible customer service personal touch.

In my case, it was not the in-store purchase, but mail order, instead.  The business is run out of a man's home.

Once the purchase was made, a problem arose in which I emailed the contact early in the morning but did not get a response by late afternoon, so I called and left a voice mail.  This was Day One.
Day Two, I did the same thing.
Day Three, again.
Day Four...several emails and another voice mail.

Day Five I received a call back.

The caller apologized and said, "You know, I don't think I got your email.  You should know that emails are not always instant."

Please note that this is in the negative, twice.  This makes it important.

Note that "think" is a weak assertion, which is in the negative and that the sentence about the emails is in the negative, making it also important.
Many people may question the validity, in context, of emails' speed.

Emails were sent 4 days in a row.

  The key is to listen what you are being told.  For me, I was listening to his apology about the 4 straight days of no responses.  I had decided on Day 5 to no longer contact.

Then he said, "I'm going to be truthful and honest with you.  I'm sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. I work from home.  It's really hard to get work done when your kids are home from school."

When someone is deceptive with me, I politely bring the interaction to a close, and do not patronize the business again.

In this case, I noted that he did not say that his kids were home from school, so I checked and learned that the storm missed his area, so much so that a local  called it "the storm that wasn't."

He went on to avoid answering my question and "promised" to make things "right" in a few "months", and this only "if he can."  He said, "So you call me in three months."  

Lesson learned.

When someone writes to me, I attempt to answer all emails expeditiously.  I have found messages left for me at and which I do not check regularly, which were months old.  Other times, I have found someone's email in my spam folder, which I don't regularly check unless I have a reason.

Yesterday, I learned that "google video call" does not show up in my email...from my lap top, that is, but it does on my iPhone!

My point is that there are, at times, good reason why someone does not return a call or an email.

But at other times, there may be reasons that are not so...


Caveat Emptor.

I barely passed Latin at St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in 1978, but I did learn enough to know what that phrase means.


john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

y Dad who is 84 and is partially deaf. He watched an advert on Tv for a hearing aids, the advert had subtitles for obvious reasons. They stated there were giving away 5000 free hearing aids. At the end of the advert they said call now for details how to apply for a free sample hearing aid. Now, i know the 5000 free ones were probably snapped up.

My Dad called to arrange and appointment at home.

While waiting for this appointment date. He kept saying. I'm sure something is not right are their "hidden" costs.

Now to my point. In S/A we always state that words do not come from a vacuum. My Dad kept going on. John something isn't right.

Hearing aids, how small or how big will always be seen if you look close enough.

I asked my Dad what was the company called low and behold they were called "Hidden Hearing aids"

To cut a long story short. YES, there were "Hidden" costs, they started of from £299. I think my Dad picked up on the word "Hidden" subconsciously and this is what was niggling him.

tania cadogan said...

John many people subconsciously pick up the qualifiers, the dropped pronouns etc but don't know for sure what they have picked up on.
Unlike we who have a basic understanding of SA and know what is missing and why, they have a feeling of something isn't right, something is off and it bugs them.
Once it is pointed out they see it for what it is.
Intuition if you like is an alternative word for what we would call SA.

I find TV ads annoy me as i pick up on the dropped pronouns, the qualifiers, the changes in language without a change in reality.
I do a lot of surveys and i am often asked to view a new ad either as a video or a print and to say what is good what is bad and so on.
Some of them are dire and i have no problem ripping a bad advert apart, even to suggesting whoever came up with it/the tag line be slapped with a wet haddock.

Currently i am using SA on the phrase cruelty free products and PETA.
Long story short i got into a 'discussion' with some vegans who had some really dumb ideas which were totally impractical and along the way cruelty free products were mentioned.
I did a quick bit of bingoogling and using body shop satsuma wash( i have already crossed swords with them and they changed from cruelty free to against animal testing) as an example as they were being promoted as crulty free cosmetics, i had a browse through the ingredients of said product and found (not to my surprise) that most of its ingredients had at some stage , been tested on animals.
Me being me thought ok i will poke PETA with a pointy stick and see what happens.
Unfortunately for them, they didn't answer my question, instead spouting some spiel about it is cruelty free if the company doesn't test, commission etc tests on an ingredient/product on animals.
I let rip on their non answer and i am currently waiting for a response from the poor soul who was designated their ant-viv to deal with me (i am a persistant lil bugger)
I have a feeling no response will be coming ( i was polite and everything) so i shall then start firing emails at every company claiming to be cruelty free cosmetics :)

GetThem said...

OT -- Tania, you just reminded me of something. Because I have some small knowledge of SA, words sometimes sound different to me. For example, I'm a member of a program that questions me regarding consumer products. The answers are usually A, B, C, D and E and there is often no other response. It drives me bananas. Here is a recent question and allegedly, not all the responses are correct: What items can you brew in your Keurig? A. Coffee, B. Tea, C. Iced Tea, D. Wine, E. Soda. The problem is that you can brew all of those items in your Keurig even if they aren't meant to be brewed. Anyway... I guess that's not SA related, but it makes me wonder if I would have thought twice about it before listening or reading words in a new way via SA>

tania cadogan said...

HI GetThem, i have the same problem when they badly phrase a question.
Usually at the end of a survey they have a do you have any comments about this survey.
This is where i let rip if it has been a particularly dumb one.
I point out where they messed up, dumb questions,impossible answers and tell them what they should have asked.
I always finish by telling them to have a great day.

I guess they like my responses since i get to do a lot of testing of products.
When it is a good ad/product i will tell them and when it is bad i will tell them and why and how to rectify.
SA is great for surveys :)

Droll Skeptic said...

Wow. I'd also be re-evaluating your Online source that proclaimed this small business owner's "customer service and personal touch"! Liars' favorite number aside---Call him back in 3 months? Seriously??? Lol

S + K Mum said...

I ordered a christmas gift early December, it never arrived so via email was told there was s problem with delivery co and they were chasing it up and in the meantime another will be sent out. A week later I chase up again and told the second despatch would be today and IF any of the two arrive I am to refuse delivery (big spiel about how to do that) grrr....a week later neither item has arrived so I asked for a refund which I got immediately. Now it's February and guess what? Nothing has arrived from them at all haha

S + K Mum said...

Customer service at it's poorest I suspect.....check out ACHICA on Facebook 'posts to page'. I have never seen anything like it!

Anonymous said...

There basically is no more customer service. It's sad. People and businesses in general just don't seem to care. When you ("I" ;) )do happen to stumble upon some true customer service, it's kind of shocking. I often wonder if it's just me? Do I just happen to come across every person who doesn't care about their job, and every company who seems to not care? I think a lot of people just "settle", give up, and also don't bother to complain (not that it seems to help anyway).

Lis said...

I got burned on an item that had tons of great reviews and turned out to be poorly designed and overpriced. Going back to the reviews afterwards I picked up a subtle difference from the typical genuine review. A quick google of 'fake reviews' got me lots of articles and opened my eyes. It felt bad to realize I had been faked out. A genuine review is invaluable but we've gotten to the point where there are many fakes and you have to try to ferret the real ones out. I've been trying to use SA on reviews. A review is a little harder than a statement- I wonder if it would make a good study on this site?