The perils of customer service

May 15, 2008
By

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Slack customer service: it’s the bane of my life. It’s right up there with spam, broad beans and Tom Cruise as things that irritate the you-know-what out of me.

Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who think it’s the customers who are the biggest problem. In fact, I’ve found an entire website devoted to customers who suck, entitled (not surprisingly) Customers Suck.

If you’re a waiter, work in a shop, at a front desk or any number of other jobs where you have to deal with customers, this is the site.

Read all about the mother who wanted the person who sold her idiot son vinegar arrested after the aforementioned lad decided to drink the vinegar then proceeded to get very, very sick. Or how about the one about the woman with time issues.

There’s also a long-standing list of tech support horror stories online, detailing just why it is some people shouldn’t be allowed near computers and why I could never be a customer service or support person.

Among my siblings there is a teacher and a social worker, so by the time I arrived all the tolerance genes had been used up. I’m afraid if asked someone what kind of computer they had and was met with the response “a white one” I’d very likely hit them with it.

So, now that I’ve had a poke at wayward customers, it must just about be time for me to have another whinge about poor customer service. Here’s the deal: it’s all very nice when you do eventually get either an apology or a promise to put things right. It’s even nicer to get both.

However, what would be more staggeringly nice would be the elusive follow-through. This hasn’t happened with my recent bad customer service experiences. You know, the ones I’ve whinged about right here.

The helpful Telecom dude apologised, said he’d make sure we got a refund and that he would get back to me on a another query I had. He did the first two but I haven’t heard from him since.

The not-so-friendly Air New Zealand representative has either dropped off the planet of is simply choosing to ignore me. Every time I see that “amazing journeys” tagline on their website and advertising I can’t help but ponder about the places I’d like to tell them to go.

The friendly woman from NZ Post ensured my refund finally found its way into my bank account but I never did get an answer on what went wrong.

We live in a busy world and I know how easy it is to get sidetracked. However, don’t go making promises to customers if you aren’t able to keep those promises.

There’s nothing more disappointing than disappointment.

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