When is the last time you really experienced good customer service? I am beginning to think it is a dying art. Somewhere along the way we have either lowered our expectations so much that we don't think anything of it, or the providers aren't interested in dealing with customers - just selling whatever it is they are selling.
I just got off the phone with a utility company. Mind you it isn't my current utility company, it is my previous one.
Why would I hear form them? No I called them. This makes the 3rd call I've had with them.
See my current gas utility is requesting specific information from my previous gas utility stating that I have made my payments on time, haven't had any returned checks, and no disconnections. If I am able to provide that information they will waive the $110 security deposit for me.
Certainly if one gas utility was asking for it, another gas utility would be able to provide it without much problem. Right?
Wrong. On my first call, the customer service representative said he would send it. Instead, I received two generic form letters (in two separate envelopes - what a waste) saying my account was paid in full, the other stating it was being reported as current. Well, that isn't what they are asking for now is it? They are asking for historic information. They kind I know they can see on their screen.
So I called again, and asked for the specific letter. I was told they can only send out these automated letters, they can't write what I need them to write. I got a little testy. I wanted to call her a liar. Who says you can't write a letter?
I also worked customer service in a phone center in college. We had automated letters that we sent. But if something came up that an automated letter wouldn't cover we also had letterhead templates where we could write a custom letter and have it signed by someone with the proper "authority". It isn't that difficult. The only difference is you had to actually write it instead of order it by number.
I asked to speak to a supervisor, because somebody there has to have the authority to write a letter. Of course a supervisor is never on duty when you need one so I was promised a return call in 24 hours.
Twenty hours later I receive a call from the supervisor who I can already tell is on the defensive. Why? Don't they want to help their customers? Don't they want to make their experiences pleasant? Wasn't I a good customer? Apparently not. She isn't helpful and offers nothing. We can't write you a letter. I don't have letterhead. We only send automated letters.
Who do they hire at these places if they don't trust them enough to write a letter! And I wasn't asking for something bizarre, just a simple letter. For heavens sake I will write it myself and send it to you to sign. (I half contemplated scanning the letter they did send me and making some changes in Photoshop, but my conscious wouldn't let me.)
In the end I drafted a letter (on my own letterhead) explaining why I was providing two letters from my gas company that didn't say anything much at all, and included a copy of my bill pay transactions for the last 12 months. I am hoping that the people who work at my current gas company are smart enough to connect the dots and see that I am a decent customer who pays their bills on time and will waive the $110 deposit.
In this situation I have utilized the time of 3 of their employees, 2 pieces of paper, envelopes and separate postage - all for what? It was a net waste for both of us.
My last few experiences with customer service have been miserable. The people setting up new services are cordial and very helpful - they want your business. But once you have the service, pray nothing happens that requires you to talk to customer service. They are no longer in the business of making and keeping customers happy.
I am seriously trying to think of a good one, and I can't.
Scenarios like this are played out across all industries (medicine included). People are told exactly what they can and cannot do. They aren't allowed to think and use common sense to solve problems. Instead, they are given defined boxes that they aren't permitted to deviate from. You may answer the phone, you may push this button, you can say this - but, nothing more.
I dislike boxes, I like people who care.