Friday, October 14, 2005

Whatever happened to customer service?

Have you noticed changes in customer service? There was a time when customer service was an important part of doing business — a time when the last thing a business owner wanted was an unhappy patron.

Despite a slight uptick this past quarter, The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a survey run by the University of Michigan, has dropped for most of this year and is at one of its lowest levels in the past decade.

Another survey this year of 2,000 customers in the United States and Great Britain by the management consulting group, Accenture, found nearly half the respondents had switched service providers in at least one industry because of poor service.

Customer service has gotten soo bad in North America, there is an national American TV ad campaign that capitalizes on all the consumer angst. Thirty-second spots by courier firm DHL show a rapid-fire sequence of scenes from customer hell -- a waitress sloshing coffee on a diner, a woman stranded in the rain as a gas station attendant ignores her, a bagger slamming a jug of milk on top of other groceries -- all to a saccharine rendition of "What the World Needs Now." The ad concludes with the narrator saying, "Whatever happened to customer service? At DHL, it's alive and well."

Karen Jones, vice president of brand, advertising and promotions for DHL, said the response to the ads has been strong and that she has received several letters from people saying, "Yes! You tapped into what is going on in the marketplace."

I thought maybe it was just me and the customers I talk to in the course of my customer care practice. So I Googled: "customer care sucks". I got 1, 840,000 hits of irate customers sharing their horror stories.

Now It's Your Turn!:
What is customer service like on average in your 'neck of the woods'? What customer service representative negative trait bugs you the most? What positive one delights you the most? (My 'Comment Section', in which you can share anonymously, will open to you when you click on "comments" immediately below this post.)

Until next time, how can I help you? (You can contact me by clicking here. Also, contact me directly to be added to Patton Associates S-M-A-R-TBriefing™ Mailing List. Check out recent samples here.)


Blogger Ken B. Godevenos said...

On Tuesday, October 23rd, I called my Mercedes dealer (yes, I own a Smart) to tell them I troublesome engine light went on. I could not remember my service consultant's name. The receptionist said she will pick one and get this, "send them an email" to call me back. Well, it is now October 29th late in the evening and no call yet. No tell me again, why I want to support that dealership?

8:47 p.m.  

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