Does Your Customer Service Need an Inspection?

Does your customer service need some more quality control?
Does your customer service need some more quality control? ‘Troop Inspection’ © Pasukaru76
About a year ago I was introduced to this fantastic place to eat called Energy Kitchen. As someone who works out rather regularly and is trying to stay on a good diet, a retaurant serving low calorie, great tasting food is perfect!

All of the times that I went there for lunch last year were positive. I ordered my food, was given a buzzer, sat at a table and waited for my buzzer to go off and then went and picked up my food. When I was done eating my meal (which always tasted great), someone actually came around and took my empty tray and threw out my garbage.

When I returned this year (to the location closest to my office) with some friends I expected the same experience, but it didn’t quite end up that way. From the beginning the whole experience was completely different. Out of our group of four, only one of us was given a buzzer after putting in our orders. The rest of us were told that our names would just be called when the food was ready. After finding a table and waiting about 15 minutes, we realized that we couldn’t hear the person calling out the names. We also noted that nobody could hear the names being called because people were congregating around the area where the food was being given out. I finally heard my name called and received my order, which was incomplete. Along with a salad I had orderd mixed vegetables but was only given cauliflower and was told that the other mixed vegetables weren’t ready yet but that they would be delivered to me at my table when ready. My friend who received the buzzer never saw it go off but instead had her name called, and lastly my other two friends (after waiting 30 minutes) were told to pick something else because what they had ordered had run out.

The restaurant was clearly having a hard time keeping up with the lunch traffic and with their buzzer system not working it made things worse. What also didn’t help was the tone and words chosen by the employee handing out the food orders. Phrases like “Yo what did you order man” and “over there, you get it yourself” weren’t appreciated. To the manager’s credit, he did speak to the employee about how he was talking to customers, but the damage had already been done.

In the end, I never received the other mixed vegetables that I was promised (and actually had paid for), and nothing was really done for my two friends that waited 30 minutes to be told they had to choose something else. The cashier eventually walked over and gave us free brownies, but it would have been better had it come from the manager.

So although my salad tasted great, the service was far from good and memorable for all the wrong reasons. The question that I asked myself immediately afterwards was, “would I go back and endure another horrible service just for the food?” The answer is no, I wouldn’t go back for that.

This is just one example of a negative experience that I had, and it just so happens that it was related to food service. But I’ve heard horror stories from friends too about the nightmares of having products that they’ve purchased serviced. Brands need to make a conscious effort to make customer service just as important as product quality. Let’s face it, products break. The sale doesn’t end after the customer’s initial purchase.

One last comment. Brands are always looking for new advocates. Well what better advocate is there than someone who has purchased your product and has had a great customer experience ever since. I’ll bet that customer would make a great brand advocate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you value customer experience and product quality?

4 thoughts on “Does Your Customer Service Need an Inspection?

  1. Interesting!
    Having worked in Customer Service at various levels and in different companies I see the CS Dept treated like a company’s ghetto and a necessary evil.

    I remember sitting in a call center when we saw the people in the company putting on their coats and leaving in the early afternoon. Suddenly there was no one left on the company’s 2 floors except Customer Service.

    Turns out that there were people from the national headquarters who were there to give a presentation and attendance was mandatory. Well … mandatory except for Customer Service.

    The next day, we got an apology and a still-unfulfilled promise that we’ll get a mini version of the presentation.

    I think this happens to CS because there are so many layers between the decision-makers and CS. Plus, CS doesn’t necessarily generate money in the way that the sales team does. CS doesn’t have legal obligations surrounding it like Accounting. CS isn’t involved with branding and campaign decisions like Marketing is.

    Time and time again, we’d get information about a new campaign only when people would start calling about it and we didn’t know WTF. Marketing, Sales, Operations, upper management and the project managers would get all excited and spend months planning something, and they don’t think to warn or get feedback from CS.

    And in a lot of companies customer service reps don’t have a path for moving up in the company. They stay in CS or they leave.

    Meanwhile, there’s a massive industry that sells products for monitoring reps who spend too much time between calls, spend too much time on calls, don’t take enough calls … It’s like they’re warning companies that CS is a cancer to be monitored.

    I have a lot of sympathy for people in CS. They are often in awkward positions. They interact with the public and sometimes don’t have effective support from their employer. This doesn’t make horrible service acceptable but it paints a more vivid image of the challenge.

    1. Hi Oz, thank you for sharing this perspective! I have a lot of respect for people in customer service, and I’ve even blogged here about some great service I’ve received. I think customer service is very important for any brand so I appreciate it sincerely when I’m treated well. If the industry is viewed as you suggest, that’s very unfortunate. Customer service reps are the front lines for brands after the sale.

  2. CS is key BUT I do feel that the people handling many of the complaints might be at the bottom end of the spectrum & not only do not get paid well BUT can’t do a whole lot without management approval. I honestly feel sorry for many of them BUT it is key to keeping customers coming back so maybe we need to look at that job more carefully! 🙂 I know some companies are so big that they do not care… 😦

    1. I agree Jody, most assigned to the role of customer service don’t have to power to really do anything (I think). But I also think that we’re all responsible. For example, I don’t work for the Consumer side of the house but seeing the trouble you were having with our product I took it upon myself to try and see if we could fix the situation, and we did! 🙂 I think in that way those of us that work for a major brand can lend a hand.

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