Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Customer service - how to and how not to

My biggest client - a company called Rackspace - are absolutely passionate about customer service. In fact, if you ask what they do, they'll tell you they deliver Fanatical Support. The IT Hosting bit comes very much second. Being surrounded by all this customer love has taught me a thing or two. It has also made me a lot less tolerent of companies who forget that customers ultimately pay their wages.

A couple of recent examples. I was trying to pay for three pairs of various footwear in SportsDirect (yes, three pairs... having a small boy interested in sport is a very expensive affair!). It had been something of a drama getting this far in the store as there is never anyone around to assist in finding you the right size, but at last we'd got to the point of passing over cash. Except, we hadn't quite. The queue was about 10 deep with one till open. Don't get me wrong, they weren't short staffed. There were a couple of other girls behind the till tidying up hangers and security tags - because as we all know, that is far more important a task than serving paying customers. To cut a long story short (because this was just the start of the whole sorry affair!), I ended up practically leading a rebellion of angry customers and giving them lessons in how to create a pleasing customer experience (this from the girl who wouldn't say boo to a goose for the first 30 or so years of her life!). The only reason I didn't walk out was because my son had broken his trainers and needed them for school the next morning. I shan't be shopping there again any time this century.

Then, on Sunday, my Broadband suddenly stopped working. This in itself is annoyance enough, but your heart sinks after 10 minutes of no miraculous repair and you realise you are going to have to phone Sky Technical Support. After you've been through the maze of press 2 for this, 4 for that, 1 for the other, and 5 for will someone please just answer the ****** phone, you are then through the labotomised operative who, no matter what you tell them you already know, will insist on going through a set procedure. They will then diagnose a fault with the exchange which they don't know when will be repaired. Call back later and you'll find your ticket closed (with no repair), so you have to go through the whole procedure again.... and again.... and again..... No matter how many times you tell them you've already tried switching the router off and on, they are unable to move to the next question without an answer. The second time we called, it was a fault with our machine. The third time it had moved back to the exchange, the fourth it was clear that they just making it up as they went along, by the fifth attempt I had packed my screwdriver and was on my way down there to fix the thing myself.

At no point in either of these two examples did any member of staff take ownership, admit there was a problem and use their brains to solve it.

OK rant over. We are back on Broadband but Sky lost us as a customer - not just Broadband, but TV and phone too.

Bit of a stark contrast to the BMW dealership. I went in to buy a new key - which is probably the cheapest thing in there (but still £126!). I was also worried I had a bit of an oil leak and wondered if any of the mechanics could check it out for me. Despite the fact that I was clearly not going to be parting with £40k for a new motor, I was still greeted by a smiling lady who plied me with proper coffee from a fancy machine and cake and sorted my son out an X-Box to play with, while I waited to be served in a comfy chair with a fresh newspaper. As there was a bit of a wait (ooh, at lest 5 minutes) because I'd picked a busy time, she popped back to let me know they hadn't forgotten me and make sure I was OK.

It's just a shame they don't sell trainers or supply Broadband...


  1. This REALLY resonates with me. Don't you just love those companies that answer the phone with "Your call is important to us, an operator will be with you shortly"... and you wait, and wait, and wait....then hang up.

  2. I hear you,, this is the worst part of all the modern times, hurry up and wait.

  3. I am with you on all of this. "Service" by phone is the worst and shopping has lost all its appeal to me (if it had any). And same with our car dealership - excellent service. And to my big surprise, the service at the hospital where I had my surgery in June was top notch as well. I had never expected that.

  4. Yes I find customer service in the stores have gotten very bad. We have a particular shop here where to find out something you have search, literally, search for a worker as the ones at the help desk can't leave there area to show or find the other worker who will then help you lol

  5. yes indeed. the phone agony really is quite torturous . . . I have to say I feel the customer care at the apple store is similar to your bmw one. It's in a league of its own and amazing. There is always someone to help, it's never too much and they will always squeeze you in and spend aaaaages helping you. There is a LOT to be learnt from this. Believe me, I learnt a lot.


    PS. I'm doing a give-away over at mine ;)

  6. OMG - Don't even get me started...! I live in the town of the uneducated and lazy. This is why I am in JessiVille most of the time, lol!
    Jessi xox

  7. Frustrating! Rude!....and sadly unnecessary! And yet, it perpetuates! Aaaaargh!

  8. Great story Lisa. The general level of customer service in this country is appalling in my opinion. Where have all the smiles gone??!! I used not to complain about poor service but these days I must say that I do and usually to the top so that the head office knows what's going on at shop floor level.

    Always wonderful service at John Lewis and Waitrose though!!!!


  9. Wonderful story. Service is not what it used to be for sure. I have been in line in stores where as you say plenty of employees are doing anything but working checkouts. Glad you found a place that appreciated your business enough to treat you like all businesses should.


Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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