Portrait of a Customer Service “Don’t”… and some “Dos”

Recently we terminated a 12 year relationship with our ISP.  While their products had been fine, their customer service had become a portrait of a “don’t”.  We found ourselves musing over what we would have suggested had they been our client instead of our vendor and thought we’d share our top three recommendations with the 4Views Community.

1) Empower your employees to make decisions that cost up to an agreed-upon dollar amount.

The first sign of trouble in our relationship came when we were told by the ISP’s technical department that we needed a new part.  He was only authorized to use USPS ground, which was going to take 7-9 business days.  That’s an obscenely long time to ask a business to stay off-line in today’s climate.  Had he been given the freedom to use his judgement about spending up to $100 to keep a loyal customer happy (a common dollar amount among our clients), we would have had our part the next day without feeling like their broken system was costing us money to repair.

 2) Ensure that you have solid lines of communication between departments serving the same customer base.

When our part arrived, it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t going to solve our issue.  While the ISP’s technical department acknowledged this and eventually dIspatched appropriate help, this information was never communicated to the billing department.  Three weeks later, our account was hit with charges for the unneeded part as well as shipping, handling and taxes.  We had to contact our credit card company and it took weeks to get the money refunded.  If the tech’s notes had been instantly forwarded to billing, they could have promptly sent us a return postage tag for the package and reversed charges before our statement was generated.  Instead we felt like the company had taken advantage of having our card number on file to arrange a short-term loan.

3) If you ask customers to take a satisfaction survey, have a process in place to respond appropriately to unhappy answers.

Our ISP’s first satisfaction survey arrived in our Inbox while our network was still down.  That was certainly an example of poor communication and follow-through.  But to our way of thinking, their reaction to the second survey was even more damaging.  Even though we had given them scores of 0-2 out of 10 on every question and wrote in detail about our experience, we never heard a word from them.  A satisfaction survey should be part of a process that demonstrates care for the business you are being given and illustrates the steps being taken to correct the problem.  We would have recommended not only a personalized note from a senior advisor, but a free month of service.  For goodness sake don’t compound a service problem by ignoring answers to a satisfaction survey someone has taken the time to answer.


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