Creating the Illusion of Customer Service…

October 22, 2014 5:37pm
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I try to be nice to customer service reps – I’ve had that job before and I know that it sucks, but I still have little patience for those who don’t even try to walk the customer service walk.

The trick to working customer service is creating the illusion that you give a shit about your customer’s problems.

I called in because I’m having a problem with our home warranty – thing broke on Friday and repair guy said that it’d be fixed on Monday or Tuesday, and today is Wednesday. I talk to him and he says that his hands are tied until he gets the parts from the home warranty company because they insist on using their own. I talk to them and they say that they’ve just been ordered today and will arrive in 72 hours. So basically I’m out for a full week at this point.

The delay doesn’t bother me that much, though – delays happen.

What struck a nerve with me was when the home warranty rep told me, “I’m sorry about the delay, but things are kind of out of my control.”

“No, they’re not,” I countered. You should have control of your own supply chain that you use to fix my stuff.”

It looks like there was a discrepancy in pricing, and it is what it is at this point.

Excuse me?!

My biggest pet peeve with customer service reps, or really anybody who works for a company, is when they shift from we to they when they’re talking about the problem that I’m experiencing.

We’re having a small delay in getting those parts to you…

They’re having a small delay in getting those parts to you…

You see the difference? The difference is that in the second one, the rep makes it sound like he’s on my side and he doesn’t know why my parts are being delayed, either! But as I tried in vain to explain to this dim-witted claim rep, when I call customer support to complain about an issue, you are the company that I’m calling to complain about.

That doesn’t mean that you personally delayed my parts, and I get that. But it does mean that you’re responsible for it – you, in the royal sense, meaning the company that’s paying you to take my call. And that’s where the illusion falls apart because if instead you say, “We’re really sorry about the delay, Mr. Sevener, but I can confirm that the parts have been ordered and should be delivered within 72 hours…” now you’re fulfilling your role as a customer service representative and I can go back to my day knowing that your company is trying to address my issue.

I’m not calling for a buddy to hear my pain about why my repair isn’t done yet, but when you say, “They had an issue getting the parts…” you’re shifting responsibility to somebody else, which is a no no because at the end of the day, I’m paying you. Sure, there are lots of moving parts and third parties that you use to facilitate this transaction, but at the end of the day they all report back to you.

…because if I was working with any of these other folks directly, my thing would’ve been fixed last Friday because the repair guy already had the parts on his truck – your process just wouldn’t let him use them!!!

So I have all of the sympathy in the world when good customer service reps have to deal with asshole customers, and I’ll even admit that I’m sure that occasionally I’ve been that asshole customer myself who calls up yelling and screaming and absolutely refusing to listen to anything resembling reason. But you have to try at your job – create the illusion that you’re concerned about my problem – because for the eight minutes that I’m talking to you on the phone, my problem is your problem.

Or at least my problem is your company’s problem…

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I couldn’t login to my account just now – it kept giving me that second security question about “In what city is your vacation home?” which seemed a little odd because I don’t remember ever buying a vacation home, so it would be silly for me to pick that as one of my security questions.

For a brief second, I was worried that maybe my account had been compromised and somebody had went and bought $4,000 worth of lumber on my card, but while waiting for their IVR to let me talk to an actual person, the website finally said, “Oh, I see you’re having some trouble answering this question!” and let me login with my account number and that crap instead.

Note that it also had me select new security questions at that time.

Nonetheless, the first thing I did when I logged in was pull up my security questions to verify that my new ones were listed so that I wouldn’t have that problem again.

I think we found the problem – who would’ve guessed that I had a vacation home in “a” … which just so happens to be the same “a” where I went to high school?! 🙄

Earning My Business

May 16, 2014 8:32pm
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Until maybe the last year or so, I’ve always generally steered clear of doing maintenance and repair work directly at car dealerships under the idea that they’re always just so ridiculously overpriced.

That’s slowly changed with Sara’s car because although for a while we were shopping around or taking it to the local shop where I’ve taken my own car for years, it seemed like her standard oil changes kept going higher and higher … at everywhere but the actual Honda dealer. Whereas the other guys liked to tack on new fees for the special oil that her hybrid uses – I think the absolute worst wanted something like $60 for a single oil change – the dealer seems to have no problem staying competitive and after coupons, it’s now some of the cheapest oil changes I’ve ever seen!

But that’s not what this post is about.

10292520_10202812742572103_2926047506917846785_n[1]So yesterday we traveled down to Anna Maria Island south of us to celebrate one of Sara’s cousins renewing their vows. Despite numerous visual cues, the weather somehow managed to remain remarkably not rainy, and it was surprisingly nice having the sun hidden behind clouds all evening because it helped to keep the temperatures on the beach down a bit. All in all it was a pretty fun time, however the evening wasn’t without it’s share of “excitement” in that only a few miles away on our arrival to said party … the brakes on Sara’s car went out.

Well, I’m not entirely sure if went out is the appropriate term, but just as we were going over the last bridge onto the island, which is pretty much the worst possible time for one to experience problems with his vehicle’s braking capabilities, the brake pedal suddenly went all the way to the floor and a bevvy of warning lights flashed across the dashboard as I temporarily panicked about whether we were going to hit the car in front of us as an alternative to driving off the side of the bridge…

Thankfully there was still some sort of braking left, though nearly all of the resistance in the pedal was gone. We limped our way over to the party, and afterwards stopped at the nearest 7-11 to pick up a bottle of brake fluid … of which I dumped nearly the entire thing into the container, although it didn’t seem to do much good…

…until I hit a giant pot hole in a parking lot, and we heard a *cling* as something fell on the ground, and then they started working just fine again?!

So needless to say, we were pretty paranoid all of the way home and I did my best to pick the route with the least stops so that we wouldn’t have to brake much. Luckily because it was 11pm on a weeknight, traffic was fairly minimal on the freeway all of the way home. When we pulled in the driveway safely an hour later, I vowed to get the thing in to the dealership the next morning to figure out what in the world was going wrong. My Mom is flying in tomorrow and we need to pick her up from the airport, so we need to have a car that can actually stop on demand! 😯 

Because at that point there were two possible solutions in my mind:

  1. Something bad had happened with her brakes that was going to cost me hundreds of dollars after I just spent $450 doing all sorts of other maintenance on her car
  2. Something bad had happened when the dealership had flushed her brakes and what had just happened was totally their fault

Surprisingly after only a short diagnosis, it turns out that neither of those scenarios were correct, and what had happened was that somehow a tiny rock had flicked up from the road at some point and somehow managed to get stuck in one of the brake calipers, meaning that because it couldn’t maintain pressure like it was supposed to, instead whenever I pressed on the brake pedal it had just been spraying brake fluid all over the ground, hence the empty fluid and the lack of braking power.

Now what was pretty awesome about the whole thing is that after explaining just how unlikely it was that the scenario even happened in the first place, much less would ever happen again, the dealership didn’t charge me a dime for bringing my car in.

I would’ve expected even just a $90 diagnostic charge or something for their trouble, yet instead the service advisor merely shook my hand after he explained to me what they had found, and that was that.

You don’t really ever expect to get free things when you take your car into the shop – if anything, it’s usually much more painful than that, so that quick reassurance as a simple courtesy went a long way for showing how much they actually appreciated my previous service visits over the last couple of years.

It’s also why they’ll continue to see me in the future – because I don’t mind paying a little more every now and then if you also treat me like a human being and cut me a break every once in a while, too. 😉

So thanks again, Mike and everyone else at the Wesley Chapel Honda Service Department … we’ll see you next time!

Babies ‘R Us is Awesome

March 30, 2014 7:46pm
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This afternoon we spent roughly 4 hours at our local Babies ‘R Us.

This afternoon we saved $1,080.89 completing out our baby registry, so all in all I think it was a worthwhile use of our time!!! :mrgreen:

The staff at our local store was awesome in spending as much time as it took with us to finish everything that we wanted to do, and by the end of it all we had applied an average of 40% in various discounts across the multiple orders it took to get there!

(a few items were either out of stock or online only, so in addition to checking us out, they helped us to place those online orders as well to make sure that the same discounts carried over across the whole lot)

Packed Sara’s car from front to back, with thankfully the largest items either getting delivered straight to the house (with free shipping!) or shipped to the store where I can go pick them up when the car’s not quite as thoroughly packed. As you can see above, we had a whopping two shopping carts overflowing by the time we were done this afternoon!

But I think we should be just about done with the shopping for now – got the crib and dresser coming, rocking chair is on its way as another gift, playpen, car seat, diaper dumpster thingy, a really cool play pad where he lays on his back on the back of a whale – so much stuff, and right now it’s all piled in the middle of our family room until I finish painting the nursery and we can start putting it all away.

I was also pretty pleased that I was able to slip in a couple of new Lego sets for me, too, because hey – that baby’s not the only kid around here who loves toys around here! 😉

Anywho, once again – MAJOR major kudos to Cindy and Jasmine at Babies ‘R Us for taking the time to help make our baby shopping spree extravaganza so spectacularly successful. We were told when we first setup our registry last fall that it was possible to stack coupons in order to maximize our discounts to pick up whatever was leftover after the shower, but I never would’ve expected this…

Babies ‘R Us Baby Registry Completion Coupon – 10%
Toys ‘R Us Friends & Family Discount Mailer – 20% (just started today)
Toys ‘R Us Credit Card Application Reward – 15% (day of application only)
Grand Total – 45% off!!!

And scanning back through the veritable book of receipts that we have shows that there were even a few items that were discounted another 25-35% before our other discounts were considered, so wow!!!

One note I will offer for anyone who finds this post and does their best to beat our discount (post a comment if you do!), the percentages aren’t taken off the total altogether, but are applied to each item, in order, so instead of this:

$10 Random Baby Thing
45% off item = $10 – $4.50 = $5.50
$5.50 Sale Price

You actually end up with this:

$10 Random Baby Thing
20% off item = $10 – $2 = $8
15% off item = $8 – $1.20 = $6.80
10% off item = $6.80 – $0.68 = $6.12
$6.12 Sale Price

Now I certainly wasn’t going to quibble over the math when you considered that we still pretty much made out like bandits, especially considering that they had a special sale on breastfeeding stuff for buy 1, get 1 50% off that was a nice little chunk of change by itself for this new, apparently Medela-branded family … but it’s just something to keep in mind when you’re doing your numbers because it probably ended up being an extra hundred bucks in the grand scheme of things when the purchase price of everything was close to $3,000 for us.

Plus we’ve even got another $200 coming back to us in rebates for 10% of the total items bought against our registry by everyone, not just us … so needless to say, Babies ‘R Us has probably earned our business for a while even if it sometimes is a little more expensive than Walmart or Target. Not today, though – that’s for sure!

What do you know – I grew up, and it seems that I still get to be a Toys ‘R Us kid after all! Not too shabby… 😉

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Kudos to Keurig!

March 16, 2014 7:55pm
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So I figure that if I’m going to spend as much time as I do bitching about bad customer service, the least I can do is also share the stories when one of these companies actually does something right! 😉

Anyways, this is actually a pretty quick one – our Keurig machine stopped working a little while ago. You’d turn it on and it’d make all sorts of sounds like it was sucking up water, but then it wouldn’t actually do that.

So after a fair amount of procrastination, I called up Keurig and after a few minutes of troubleshooting to see if I could clear out the clogged nozzles or whatever on my own, the girl took down my address and said that my replacement would arrive in 3 – 7 days … simple as that!

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All they asked in return was to send a part from the broken machine back as proof that it was defective … no 20 questions, no trying to schlep their responsibility by arguing about what the warranty does and doesn’t cover – just a company that actually stands behind its product, which is pretty refreshing when you consider corporate America’s past track record!

Thanks again, Keurig – you’re definitely one of the good guys! 😀

Did I click to the wrong website or has my challenge question been transformed into some sort of challenge riddle?

How does one answer the question that isn’t one???

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Keeping in mind that this is the same website that for six months required that I setup my challenge questions every single time I visited as if each visit was my first, this doesn’t really surprise me. Thank god the same people who run their credit website aren’t the ones who sell me stuff at the store… 🙄

So admittedly I’ve kind of been bitching about Verizon FiOS a lot lately, between their latest interactive guide update being way too full of ads considering how much I pay for the service, or even simply how their prices always seem to be creeping up in general and how it really frustrates me that they’re not nearly as liberal as Brighthouse ever was about giving out promotions to help keep existing customer pricing in line with new customers…

And yet all of that dirty laundry aside, tonight I was reminded why I can’t bring myself to switch back to my old provider.

Today my sister-in-law moved out on her own, and ultimately she decided to go with Brighthouse for cable/phone/internet. As far as the tech that came out to install her service, though … I’m not sure if they hired him at random off the street an hour before the job or if in fact he was just plain incompetent, but what I do know is that I spent an hour and a half cleaning up his mess tonight so that she would have actual service before we left. 😕

1. He installed her router under the bed.
That’s not an exaggeration – when I came in, it was literally setup underneath the new bed that had also just been delivered that day. Apparently his claim was that because she got the phone, too, that was the only place where he had both a phone jack and a cable jack on the same wall.

…and yet he couldn’t have used a slightly longer phone cord so that at least the router could maybe be underneath the nightstand with plenty of wiggle room for when it needed to be pulled out, because not for nothing but my first comment when I saw that joke of an install was, “Wow – that’s going to be a pain in the ass when maintenance is required…”

2. He didn’t write down her wifi network name right … or the password, either.
I thought it seemed a little weird when I saw another network that looked almost the same as hers, but off by one digit … and in fact, it was actually hers all the time. Didn’t matter, though, because he had screwed up the password, too, so even when I tried to login to that similar network, the password we were given got rejected.

For future reference, 5 and 6 are different numbers, and F and f are not the same thing when it comes to case-sensitive passwords, like 99.9999999% of passwords are!

3. He didn’t leave the admin credentials for the router itself.
So my saving grace through all of this was the idea of finally just plugging her computer directly into the router, then logging into the router via wired connection to verify what wireless settings it was actually expecting. This proved to be a little more complicated because although there was a printed sticker on the side with an SSID, passphrase, etc…, of course none of those worked, either!

I kind of figured that that was going to be the point where I’d need to call customer support, and they’d say that they can’t do anything over the phone and would need to send their idiot tech back out … but before I did that, I basically just started guessing passwords for the router! The login was locked down to admin, so I tried the same for the password, and all of the different values listed on everything that he gave her … and then on a whim, I did a quick search on my phone for Arris Modem Password.

Yeah … the password was password, and Brighthouse never changed it. 😯

At least at that point I was able to login and verify that the SSID and password were both wrong, and then I took 5 minutes with her doing what the tech should’ve done that afternoon by helping her to create a new personalized SSID and password that she can actually remember, and of course, I also locked down her router, too, and gave her the password to put in a safe place.

It’s bad enough that they charged her an extra $50 to setup the wifi, but to not even test it prior to walking out the door?! The guy’s handwriting as atrocious as it was, he should’ve connected her computer for her – it got brought out separately that morning just so that it would be there when he was – or even just testing it on his phone real quick would’ve pointed out the written errors. How do you install something if you don’t take a minute to stop and make sure that it actually works???

Way to kick things off on the right foot with a new customer, huh?! Woof. 🙄

Good and Better Customer Service

February 4, 2014 6:58pm
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I learned today that Chase is issuing new credit cards to cardholders who were potentially impacted by the recent Target breach.

All in all, a good practice – it’s nice to see a bank going the extra mile to help protect its customers, especially even because the breach was in no way their own fault.

Here’s how they could’ve done one better…

I came across this information this morning first by logging into my Chase Online account and seeing this message:

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Well, for clarification – I found out after I called the 800 number because my first thought when I saw this message was, “Oh shit – somebody is trying to steal my credit card by requesting a new card for my account.” I knew that *I* hadn’t requested a new card, and even though the address listed online was still correct, I was still a bit concerned! But when I called in, the girl was very quick to inform that it was something that they were doing proactively because of the data breach and that everything was fine.

Ok.

So then I just received this e-mail about an hour ago:

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Makes all of the sense in the world and includes all of the pertinent details … looks good!

So what’s my one tiny critique???

Wait an extra day to push the button to start sending out new cards until after you send the e-mail out to tell your customers what you’re doing. 😐

If you follow me on Twitter, you can probably note that roughly 1 in every 5 tweets are me complaining about a company not removing me from their mailing list. It’s a very common complaint of mine, and I think the reason that it rubs me the wrong way so much is two factors:

  1. It’s in really poor taste to sign someone up for something that they didn’t ask for.
  2. Technically speaking, mailing lists should be very easy to manage with almost instantaneous unsubscribe options.

So when someone like Sears or Williams-Sonoma comes along and offers to e-mail me my receipt, and I specifically ask if they’re going to use it for marketing and they say no, it really steams me when they turn around and do exactly the opposite of what they told me that they wouldn’t. My second point is simply icing on the pissed off cake because realistically, an unsubscription request is just a simple database update, and yet they have the nerve to offer a pop-up citing “It could take up to 3 weeks to remove your e-mail address from our database.”

I think 3 weeks is the worst that I’ve ever seen and that was from Williams-Sonoma, who I still manage to get marketing crap from on a regular basis. I’m debating whether I want to try and contact them in fear of starting another Sears incident because believe it or not, I don’t want to be that guy who just bitches at customer service at every little thing, but I’m also an Internet guy who takes these kinds of things seriously and I know that anytime I’ve been accused of sending out unsolicited e-mail, I’ve jumped through hoops to resolve it as quickly as possible because I always felt like a gigantic douche when it came up!

I guess that’s really the crux of it all, even aside from my two points above. Make a mistake or a poor business decision here or there, fine, but giving a shit about it when your customer actually raises a complaint is really the tipping point for me when we’re deciding whether you’re an asshole apathetic spammer or not…

Best Buy should take a cue from Amazon – this is how customer service is supposed to work…

I e-mailed Amazon earlier this evening to follow-up on some Amazon Prime purchases that had been delivered late:

Hello, 

The items listed above sent in two shipments were not received according to the Amazon Prime Guaranteed Delivery Dates: 

Shipment of XYZ (and 5 other items) was guaranteed delivery on Thursday, 12/5 by Lasership, however it did not arrive until Saturday, 12/7. 

Shipment of PDQ was guaranteed delivery on Friday, 12/6 by UPS, however it did not arrive until Monday, 12/9. 

I subscribe to Amazon Prime specifically to take advantage of these expedited shipping times, especially during the holidays. Please advise how I will be compensated for these errors. 

– Scott Sevener 

And low and behold, within a matter of hoursI had a response:

Hello,

I’m sorry to hear your items didn’t arrive by the guaranteed delivery date under Prime two day shipping. This usually doesn’t happen.

To help make up for the inconvenience, I’ve extended your Amazon Prime membership by one month. The membership will now renew on October 27, 2014.

We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,
Gopikrishnan P

See how they didn’t argue with me and hem and haw about what they could and couldn’t do, and then make me go out of my way to fix their mistake in the first place, ultimately offering no actual compensation for all of the time that I spent resolving their issue??? Their compensation has an actual value of $6.67 (one month of Prime), and yet at least they did something, and I appreciate that!

Take notes, Best Buy, because these are the guys who will actually be selling me my next TV instead of you. 😛

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