Thursday, June 25, 2009

Customer Xceedpectations

Where have all the customer service departments gone,
Long time passing,
When did all the customer service departments expire,
Gone long time ago.

Read On:
I am moving tomorrow. As a result I have experienced the whole enchilada as it relates to customer service this past month. I have spent an enormous amount of real time (including hold time) on the phone as I shut down/transferred utilities; shopped for the best, most cost effective communications package for my new residence, coordinated movers/auctioneers, etc. Even asked for a glass of water at a restaurant I was checking out in my new neighborhood that I never received.

My reflection? What has happened to customer service in America? It absolutely amazes me how poor customer service has gotten over the years starting with working the automatic prompts you experience (e.g., press one for English, two for Spanish, three for the language of your choice) and hold times to get to a live person. When you do get a live customer service specialist or consultant (whatever happen to representatives or agents?), most exude an attitude: “Why are you calling me today?” I also enjoy when they close the conversation with the statement: “Did I provide you with adequate customer service today?”

Now I would like to present my customer service awards for 2009.

The Big Loser: Forest City Management out of Cleveland that owns the building I am exiting. On March 3rd there was a water main break that damaged 125 apartments in a building of approximately 350 units. The whole situation was mismanaged from day one. What amazed me the most, was how Forest City ignored the old adage, “Your best customer is your existing customer.” As a result, I am out of here.

The Big Winner: Dell. Yes, I decided to treat myself to a new laptop/docking station for my new home. My initial contact was with their Small Business Account Manger that worked with me patiently for two days to build an affordable unit that met my needs thanks to all their special promotions. The anticipated date of arrival was scheduled for June 16th. My new laptop arrived June 8th. My expectations were exceeded. Dell walks the talk when it comes to customer service. They exercise a term I once coined as Customer Xceedpectations. Every company in the world should model their customer service departments after Dell.

One last thought – I am looking forward to getting back on the phone Monday with Comcast now that I learned my first bill at the new location did not include all the special promotions I was entitled.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Waiting Place

Behavioral economists Thaler and Sunstein examine “status quo bias” in their 2008 book “Nudge” – why people tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling. Cerebral stuff! Dr. Seuss addressed the same topic back in 1990 in his classic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Read On:
The Waiting Place….for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

Dr. Seuss’s words of rhyme and verse humorously illustrate the status quo we all experience in life – in relationships, marriage, work, etc. Even when we attend meetings and tend to sit in the same seats in the conference room, similar to grade school when we conformed to seating charts. Why do we practice status quo? People become predisposed to “yeah, whatever, it is what it is” performance. Let’s face it; status quo is less risky than making a change. Thaler and Sunstein theorize that unless people are given a compelling reason, an incentive, they will maintain status quo. Scary stuff given we live in turbulent times where we need to start considering major changes, initiate innovative thinking if we are ever going to get to the next level.

In closing, I apologize for sounding cynical, but I am witnessing status quo in my industry, foodservice. Everyone keeps doing the same old thing – participating in food shows, advertising in trade journals that nobody has time to read anymore, etc. Makes me wonder, is it only in my industry or is it all industries?

Is it society?

Remember: Stay away from status quo and enjoy the places you will go.