Thursday, April 21, 2011

Customary Units

People that do not work in Customer Service often like to squawk on about how the quality of the Customer Service that they have received has significantly decreased over the years. They like to talk about the cable guy, the cell phone company, the coffee shoppe, and the overpriced clothing boutique: all of them are full of good-for-nothing assholes that deserved to be set on fire and shot, apparently. More than ever, the average joe feels like his dollar should be stretched to its absolute limit, forgetting that there are thousands of employees behind the scenes and behind the counter that feel the brunt of a customer that wants everything for practically nothing. When I bring up this argument, I often get some kind of mumbo-jumbo about how CEOs should make less and the company should be happy with smaller profits and blah blah blah. Well, if you know anything about capitalism, you know that they're not going to settle for it and the lowest members of the team receive the worst treatment. You wanted it, 'Merica, and you got it. This is what I call Freedom.

I've been "fortunate" enough to be the face of several companies in my lifetime and, in turn, I've been sworn at, demeaned, belittled, yelled at, and stomped on more times than I could probably even remember. I've been told that there just isn't money in the company's budget for more help or that the raises aren't going to be what they were last year because the company is losing revenue. I sat at the television and shook my first at the CEO of BP that was taking vacations and bitching about wanting his life back while thousands of Gulf of Mexico business owners were losing their livelihood. That's capitalism, baby.

If we have to live in it, though, we must make the best of it, and treat Customer Service representatives with respect. Although, at times, you must be firm and unforgiving, a little bit of decency will get you a long way. A few really awesome examples that have really touched my life over the last few days:

I wrote before about my Aerogarden. It has been a little over two weeks since the initial set up and the plants are doing well, except for the Basil and the Chives. Aerogarden guarantees germination for all of its seed pods and provides a customer service number if there are any problems. When I called Aerogarden, the nicest man in the whole-wide world answered the phone (you want validation? call them up). I went into the call with no expectations. You know why, because in life we don't deserve anything. Got it? I know it's a hard concept to swallow. Anyway, I presented my problem and without any hesitation, he offered to send new seed pods and even provided a better product that not only was more successful in terms of germination, but it was also a plant that I wanted to grow more than Chives. I mean, who the hell actually eats chives outside of baked potatoes? How many baked potatoes does an average person eat? I mean, really. I'm really excited about my new seed pods and I feel fortunate to have such a pleasant experience.

Earlier this week, I took the car in for an oil change. gives you the opportunity to schedule appointments online and when I scheduled, I asked about detailing. When I received a call the next day, not only did they schedule me at an optimal time, but they also scrubbed my seats, buffed out the car scratches along with changing my oil...and it was all FREE. I could pick up and drop-off the car with ease and there wasn't a hassle for add-ons or more expensive services. I'm eternally grateful to the dealership's service department for their appreciate for my business, if that makes any sense. I expected to pay for all of those services, and felt really fortunate when I didn't have to.

And they say that customer service is dead!

Without sassy demands, ridiculous expectations and a sense of entitlement, customer service can fulfill its end of a two-way capitalistic street.

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  1. I'm not sure if you've been to this site before, but I think you'd enjoy (the customer is) Not Always Right ( Having also been a part of the customer service industry, it gives me a smile when I read about some of the people that CSRs deal with.

    On to the post, it really resonated with me. As I said above, I worked in Customer Service for quite some time. It's a lot harder of a job than the average consumer realizes. It's one of the reasons why I always try to be as polite as possible to those that have to be the public face. And if I do get snarky or blow up at them for some reason, I usually attempt to apologize.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post. - Amber (PisceanMama) from Swap-Bot.

  2. Word. And in the era of Groupon and Living Social et al, it is a thousand percent worse. Service providers feel that they have to participate in these deals because everyone else does. They take a pay cut of 50% or more for the priviledge of gaining new customers who are far pushier, more demanding and less possible to satisfy since they no longer value your services and can just move on to the next place where they get something for next to nothing.