Your Career and You: “Customer Service…a Promise is a Promise”


Publication1I’m on vacation in my “second home” of Taipei, Taiwan, getting some badly-needed rest and, at the same time, working myself into a frenzy of hissy-fitness thanks to the ineptitude of a team of “agents” theoretically representing Verizon.

The world’s not going to come to a screeching halt, I know, because of my problem. But I can guarantee you that Verizon is on the verge of losing a long-time customer.

If one is to believe the company’s self-serving proclamations, customer service is paramount. But…

The depth of that “service” is up for debate. Lots of scurrying around and lip service by @VerizonSupport “agents.” After a total of TEN hours spent online with FIVE “agents”…ZERO results.

Okay. Rant’s over. Now to the conversation.

Customer service is the “make-or-break” factor in almost every business relationship. A store is a store is a store. A website is a website is a website. A product is a product is a product.

The differentiator, in practically every situation, is the customer’s perception that he or she is important and that the supplier of the product or service truly cares.

Most of us are willing to accept an occasional glitch in the system. We’re wearing our “grown-up” pants. We know stuff happens.

But when that “stuff” happens day-after-day…and is repeated by more than one representative of the organization… “Houston, we have a problem.”

It’s easy to point fingers and burn a hapless victim…guilty or not…at the stake. But that rarely solves the underlying problem which is a corporate culture that encourages “stick to the rulebook” customer service.

This is what happened in my Verizon encounter. Every single “agent” with whom I spoke parroted the exact same series of responses. They stuck religiously to the rulebook. The result, predictably enough, was a brick wall past which not one “agent” dared venture.

Where am I going with this? Simple.

To the customer…end-user…service recipient…you are the company. And his or her expectation is that, as the company, you’re going to fix the problem…just like you promise in your advertising, in your marketing materials…in everything.

You can curl up comfortably in the cocoon of your “policies and procedures” manual and do exactly what the book says to do. Or you can put yourself in the place of the customer and ask yourself, “What would make me happy in this situation? The company ‘promised’…”

At the end of the day, some things don’t change. The sun will always rise in the east. And a “promise” will always be a promise.

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About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in Communication, Critical Thinking, Customer Service, feedback, Leadership, public relations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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