I must confess, complaining about Customer Service makes me feel old.
I want to start with, “Back in my day…..” and then rail about the current state of disasterous customer service. I was taught, “the customer is always right”, and while I might not agree wholeheartedly with that, I do believe employees must be respectful and pleasant.
You would think, with the current state of the economy, with record unemployment, that businesses would choose only the best and the brightest – that the people greeting and serving you in restaurants and retail stores would be stellar, but I am finding that is not the case.
What has me in a customer service uproar? My treatment at a St. Louis Apple store. The good news: the OTHER local Apple store plus the company’s phone support are fantastic. But that first experience – wow – it left a horrible taste in my mouth.
I bought my new MAC a few weeks ago during Missouri’s Sales Tax Free Weekend. When I did, I also bought ‘Apple One to One’ – a support service that would set up my new computer, transfer files and provide tutorials to make me proficient. I asked, “How long does it take to do the file transfer?” This is important to me since I cannot be without my computer for long (work and, I’ll admit it, it makes me nervous). The answer from Apple Store #1: “Two to three hours.”
However, when I tried to schedule my transfer, I was informed it would be two to three days. The Sales Tax Free Weekend had created a backlog. Now, I was disappointed, but understanding. The backlog made sense to me.
So, for three weeks, I called Apple Store #1 regularly, waiting for the turn time to subside. When I was told it was 24 hours, I planned to bring it in. I tried to make an appointment, but was told I didn’t need one – that I should just come by.
I called every single day last week, continuing to confirm the 24 hour timeframe. I told everyone who answered the phone I was planning to come by on Thursday.
So, on Thursday morning, I unplugged my PC, packed up my MAC, loaded my three year old in the car and threw the stroller in the trunk.
Apple Store #1 is in a mall. When I pulled into the parking garage, I unloaded the stroller, placed the PC in it, perched the bag with my new MAC on my shoulder, grabbed Coop’s little hand and used my other hand to slowly steer the stroller through the mall.
It was not the easiest of tasks, but well worth it knowing I would get both back the next morning.
Except that wasn’t the case.
When I entered the store, I told the Greeter why I was there:
Me: Hi there – I know – try not to make fun of the stroller, sometimes being a mom comes in extra handy. I am here to do a file transfer from my PC to my new MAC.
Greeter: Ok – come on in.
(He then stops and whispers to a girl in the middle of the store, while glancing at me over his shoulder)
Greeter: I’ll be right back, I’m not sure we are doing that anymore.
Me: What do you mean you aren’t doing that anymore? I just talked to someone yesterday?
Greeter: Relax!(eye roll) Just hold on a minute, I said I was going to check.
Me: (In my head…”did that pipsqueak just tell me to ‘relax’ and ROLL HIS EYES AT ME after I asked a very reasonable question???”)”
From the back, Greeter resurfaces with Manager Guy. Manager Guy has ‘the look’.
Me: “I can tell from the look on your face you are going to tell me something I don’t want to hear.”
Manager Guy: “Right, we aren’t doing transfers anymore”
Me: (again) “I don’t understand. I spoke to someone yesterday and told them I was coming in”
Manager Guy: “With the re-model, yesterday was the cut-off.”
Me: “Re-model? I don’t know what you are talking about. I called every day this week and no one ever mentioned a re-model”
Manager Guy: “Yes, we shut down this weekend, on Sunday”
Me: “But don’t you have a 24 hour turn time?”
Manager Guy: “Yes.”
Me: “So wouldn’t my computer be done by tomorrow morning – two days before you close?”
Manager Guy: “We can’t promise that and if we didn’t finish, your computer would end up in storage and you wouldn’t like that.”
It is at this point that I realize, I do not want these people to touch my computer. If they can’t come through on promises to customers, and clearly have communication issues, I don’t trust them.
He suggests I head to Apple Store #2 and assures me they have a 24 hour turn time as well.
I call Apple Store #2 as I’m on my way. I speak to a very nice woman, explain my situation and she tells me to come on in.
The paperwork for the transfer takes less than 15 minutes. All is well until I’m getting ready to leave the store and Gabe, the incredibly nice guy I’ve been dealing with says, “OK – this should be ready in 5-7 buisness days.”
My eyes might have popped out of my head. “Five to Seven business days??? I was told 24 hours!”
Gabe: “Who told you that?”
So, I explain my situation and that I was sent from Apple Store #1 with the promise of a 24 hour turn time.
So, you know what Gabe did? He went in the back, explained my predicament and came back with good news. They could have my computer ready in 1-2 days.
It isn’t that he ‘made it happen’, but the fact that I was treated well. No one rolled their eyes at me. No one ignored the fact that I had been given misinformation by store employees – repeatedly. He was hoping to honor what I had been told.
If this wasn’t such a pattern in stores and restaurants – the poor body language, the eye rolling, the rude tones, the lack of consideration – if it was just an isolated incident, it probably wouldn’t bother me so much. But I can’t stand the idea of giving my money to companies who can’t or don’t train employees well.
The Good News
Good customer service stands out. I don’t know what Panera/St. Louis Bread Company does when they train their employees, but they are fantastic. They are so welcoming, so efficient that I have actually asked for a customer service number to call – just to say thank you.
Oh…and in restaurants – great service usually yields higher tips – at least it does for us. I’m happy to go over and above for people who are making sure my family has a pleasant experience.
A note to Hiring Managers:
I did a quick social media poll and asked, ‘How do you define good customer service and do you expect it?’
Sadly, the most common response was, “Yes, I expect it, but rarely receive it.’ And the definitions ranged from, ‘exceeding my expectations to servicing the customer and communicating’.
So, here are a few thoughts.
1) Hire good people. Please. They are out there.
2) Be the company that goes above and beyond – we remember and will come back.
3) Please consider attitude when you are interviewing a potential employee.
4) Set high expectations so employees know you want them to provide customers with a great experience.
5) Correct them, kindly of course, if there service is not up to the appropriate standards.
6) Listen to the customer and keep the lines of communication open.
7) ALWAYS respond to a question or a complaint.
8) Do what you say you will do – if you promise to call back or track down an answer, please do.
I promise to do my part at home – if I teach my children to be respectful, they will (hopefully) grow into respectful adults and eventually employees with a strong work ethic.
Now, I hope you will do your part.
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