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Does Your Company Have a Customer Disservice Department


You would think that in the times of double-digit unemployment, stock market volitilaty, looming inflationary rates and and a real estate market doing an impression of Brittney Spears – it's going up; wait – it's going down, no; it's going up… – that ALL businesses would be aggressively attacking one of the fundamental areas of PP – Profit Protection – and making sure their customer service is A #1.

If my last experience with a national cable company is any indication…nah.

This company has supposedly been rated J.D. Powers #1 in Customer Satisfaction.  They must have donated to the J.D. Powers Foundation or something because you will shake your head in disbelief when you hear this one.

I get a knock on my door last week whilst I was locked away upstairs in my baldcave/home office.  (I swear; all I need up here is a little fridge and an intercom and I never have to go downstairs.  Ever.  Except to leave the house.)

Since my Mom is visiting and taking care of the baby, I figured she'd ignore it like we always do – you never answer an unkown knock at the door; it is always someone trying to sell you something.

I forgot – Mom lives in Nowhere, Pennsylvania now where everyone goes over unannounced to everyone else's homes, so she answered the door.

Yep – a door-to-door sales rep for AT & T.

So, I begrudgingly get called down from the Baldcave and get the shpiel from the rep.  To my surprise, it appears to be a great offer.

Apparently the cable company I use had a monopoly on the area and now AT & T has installed faster, fiber-optic line and is offering more of everything faster and cheaper than my current provider.

Because I am genetically wired to never by anything from a door-to-door sales rep, I decline, thank him and send him on his way…then immediately get online to go investigate.

I don't know about you, but I'm Old School; once I get a relationship with a vendor or someone in business, I tend to want to stick with them, even in the face of something better because I like long-term relationships and doing business with people I trust.  I say to myself, "I am going to give my current provider – who I have been with forever – a shot at keeping the title."

Guess what…my Internet is DOWN.  Not a good start for my current provider.

I call the provider and after going through the Death Queue of Automated Everything, I get the message that they are aware of the outage and working on it.

Irritated, I call back and keep saying, "Person, Representative, Live Human Body" until I get a person on the phone.  Once I get one, I explain that a major competitor is in town and wants my business and that I am calling to see if they can beat or at least match their offer.

The Human says, "Thank you so much for calling and giving us the opportunity Mr, Huff; many of our customers don't do that.  Because you called, let me transfer you to the Customer Loyalty Department."

At this point, I am thinking to myself, "Sweet – I'll get with someone quickly, negotiate a better deal and get off the phone."  This was important because by this time, we had company over, kids running around and food getting prepared – and I was hungry.

Well…the Customer Loyalty Department put me on hold – for FIFTEEN MINUTES – before I hung up in frustration.

The company that was over was a friend of mine in sales and he asked me what was up.  I told him what happened and he said, "Well, that's not a way to keep a loyal customer, is it?"

Now I was annoyed.  I sat for a moment and then said to myself, "Self, you are a small business owner and you always appreciate it when someone gives you another chance if you make a boo-boo, so call them back and try again."

So, I did.

Yep.  More Death by Automation.  More asking for a human.  More Customer Loyalty Department.  More hold music, but this time, I only lasted TEN MINUTES before hanging up in disgust.

My buddy looked at me and said, "Hey – better service, better rates and faster?  Make the switch.  You gave them two chances and they fumbled the ball."

I called AT & T, got a very personable guy on the phone who said he personally had the service in his house that I was getting and he, "LOOOOOOVED-it!" Five minutes later, I was done.

This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that you DO NOT want going on in your business.  Especially now.

You want to be simple to do business with.  Don't make them click the mouse too much, don't make them suffer on hold forever and get back to them quickly.

With all the electronic advances, it gets very simple to become "electrolated" – electronically isolated from the world, the only contact being via e-mail, text or social media.  It shows in people's rapidly deteriorated social skills and ablitily to communicate.

So many people out there cannot make friends, influence people or sell anymore.  And, my favorite saying is still, "Everyone is braver via e-mail."  Why pick up the phone or, God Forbid, go talk to someone in person if you have a problem.  That would be scary.

I speak to "Taking Back Your Power" as the ONE thing everyone could do to improve the quality of their lives.  When I say that, I mean in EVERY area of their lives – not just with the bullies in the workplace or at school.

I took back my power with my cable company.  My cable company might want to take back the power from their Customer Disservice (Loyalty) Department.  Think about areas in your business or professional life where you may be giving your power away – not only to the bullies,energy suckers and negative b.s. – but to technology that may actually be getting in the way of TCOB – taking care of business and connecting with customers.

To your best,

Sensei Huff

P.S. – My latest book with the working title, "The 10 Commandments of Small Business Marketing" is in the final draft.  I let you know when it is ready to roll out.  In the meantime, you can get started on Bully Proofiing yourself and your child by going to http://www.bullyproofkids.com/index1.html.

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