When customer service goes bad

5 Jan

We are at the tail end of the biggest consumer season of the year as we start the new year.  We have bought all kinds of products, gizmos and gadgets by this time of year.  We buy them in good faith, expecting them to work, and wrap them up and give them to someone to make them happy.

But sometimes, they don’t work…or don’t work right…or are damaged…or the wrong size.  What then?

Sometimes the first customer service experience is at the store, standing in line with a gift receipt, to exchange that item for something more appropriate.  Sometimes it’s on the phone to call a customer service center.  And while we usually deal with someone who is courteous and efficient, there are times when it’s the opposite.  What then?

Don’t accept crappy customer service!  Demand to speak to a supervisor.

Sometimes though, not even a supervisor can help with your issue.  So what then?

Use your voice, and in the day and age of computers and reviewing websites, your voice can be heard.  Whether its a retailer, product, or manufacturer that fails to meet minimal standards, reviewing the offending party is just the start.

So what next?

Publicize your review.  Put links on Twitter, put it on your Facebook wall, put it in your blog.  Be heard, and be heard loud and often.  Write a letter to the publicity department of the offending company, along with any and everyone else you can find for the company, and include links to your postings.  Be specific about the problem and about why you are upset with customer service.

But be reasonable.  Don’t demand the moon because you bought green cheese!

Here’s some helpful hints when things go terribly wrong.

  • Document your calls, who you talked to and the day and time, as well as what they said.
  • Never ever use abusive language or profanity or make threats.
  • Always ask for a time frame for any action that is promised by the company, such as sending a replacement or returning your call.
  • Always be specific about the problem with the product or service.
  • Know what you expect from the company to rectify the situation (but remember, you are not always going to get it…if ever!)
  • Remember to go back to your reviews & postings and update them IF the company takes any remedial action to fix the problem.  State what the company did and how long after the problem occurred before the remedial action took place.

Most of all, remember to buy from companies that have GOOD customer service!  Be just as vocal about companies that do deliver good service as you are about the ones who don’t.

Why bother?

To not take any action is letting these companies get by with shoddy merchandise and terrible customer service, and that decreases the reasons companies have to deliver good service and great products.  If you support the idea of good old fashioned American quality and service, you have to take action to preserve it.  More and more companies are sending their manufacturing and call center jobs overseas to cut their costs, resulting in a loss of quality.  Many of us are buying their products, thinking we’re getting the best, when instead, we are buying one more cheap import.  Help other consumers avoid the problems you have faced, or at least have the opportunity to go into the transaction knowing that they are not likely to get good customer service. 

When you encounter companies with great products AND great service, yell it from the rooftops and share the news. We call that positive reinforcement as well as “word of mouth” advertising.  Let your word of mouth be your vote for quality companies and against those who fail to deliver!


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