Bill is always looking for examples of extraordinary customer service but he says he doesn't experience it nearly as often as poor customer service. That probably does not qualify as breaking news to you.
Bill says that when he finds extraordinary service he makes sure to recognize the person directly and also by letting their company or supervisor know. I asked him what he does when he experiences bad customer service and I think his response is typical for a lot of us.
"I used to let the person know their service was unacceptable and also notify their management but I pretty much gave up doing that," says Bill. "I found out that most of the time the company and management did nothing or made excuses rather than taking responsibility and making the customer happy."
Personally, I haven't given up on letting people know despite the frustration that often accompanies my efforts. I think if you don't tell them you're unhappy and their service is unacceptable it is unlikely to change. But, sometimes I feel like I'm tilting at windmills.
For example, I print my own postage online. It's no different than using a postage meter which has been happening since 1920 when Pitney-Bowes invented it and got it approved by the USPS for commercial use. With online printing you can do even more things including printing photo stamps. I use ones with a photo of "Listen First – Sell Later" on the stamp. It's inexpensive marketing and every week someone who gets mail from me comments about the stamp. I'm happy to share with them how they can do it themselves.
But, back to customer service. I live in the little town of Perkasie, PA which is served by a post office that is probably less than half the size it needs to be. While the town is small the mailing area for Perkasie is huge. I'm sure it was created back when there were more cows than people. That has changed and now it is a very busy and understaffed place. However, I find that the postal employees there are a great group of people and my mail carrier gives exceptional service.
Then there is the one guy who usually mans the window in the lobby. Two people could work this window but other than holiday mailing season it is always the same guy. And, he doesn't care about good service. In fact, he seems angry that his customers can do what he get paid to do. He's the guy who weighs your mail and puts the stamp on it. And, he knows all the rules. Well, actually he kind of knows all the rules. Nobody knows all of them because the USPS is always changing them and some are contradictory.
It never fails that when he is presented with mail that is already stamped and all he needs to do is say thank you and put it in the bin to go out that he has to make a comment about it. He wants to argue about packaging, stamping, forms, and anything else that is presented. I've seen him do this with pretty much anyone that drops things off where he doesn't get to sell the stamps and interpret the rules.
Today, I mailed about a dozen books to people and I used media mail. The stamp I printed has media mail printed on it. When I gave him these packages and told him they were all media mail he looked like he wanted to open each one to make sure I wasn't including some kind of contraband. He then told me, "These should be stamped media mail." and proceeded to use a stamp older than the post office to stamp red "Media Mail" all over the packages.
I said, "The stamp itself already has media mail printed on it." "Well, someone might not read that." was his response as he continued stamping away in glee. Out of curiosity I looked online to see what the post office required. Here is the rule – Mark each piece "Media Mail" and "Presorted" or "PRSRT" in the postage area. That was exactly what I had done. And, once again he was wrong and making his own rules up.
Now this may not seem like terrible service to you but it really is. In fact, it is probably worse service than the person who just doesn't care. If the post office were a business it is most likely that they would be out of business. Upper management has gone to great lengths to encourage the use of their services in order to help stem the flow of red ink. This guy, for whatever reason, makes people want to do anything but do business with him.
AT&T mobile is being attacked right now by Verizon for providing poor service with their 3G network. You've seen the ads and I've read many a blog and tweet that seem to agree. You'd think they would be working really hard to keep every customer happy.
Nope. In fact they have a policy right now that is likely to drive people away. More on that in a future post. Meanwhile, you might want to check out Validas. They might be able save you money on your mobile phone bills. I have no connection to them but they saved me a pretty good chunk of money by letting me know about a better plan that AT&T never mentioned to me. And, I've been their customer since they bought Cingular!
How do you deal with poor customer service? Do you let them know? Do you let management know? Or, have you given up like Bill?