Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad Customer Service

I'm writing this not to settle a personal gripe but more because I feel this needs to be said. I've had experiences with three businesses lately that have shown very poor Customer Service. In business, I believe that Customer Service is, if not the most important part, one of the most important pieces. One of the reasons I decided to work at GameStop part time was because of their emphasis and understanding of the importance of Customer Service. If you do not treat your customers correctly, providing them with prompt and courteous service and solution to their need, then they will not remain your customer for long. In this day and age, word of mouth advertising is one of the few genuine, trustworthy sources of recommendation left. Bad recommendations are an even purer source with much larger reach and less hesitancy to spread.

That being said, here are my three recent example of bad Customer Service.

First is Chipotle. This is not a universal criticism, but rather specific to one location and one employee, but as an employee of the company you are a representative of the brand. Recently I went in to a local store, waited my turn in line and ordered my common order, which is hard tacos to go. The lady placed the aluminum foil down and pushed it along. The next lady in line filled the customer before me's order, paused, removed the aluminum foil for my order from the line and proceeded to fill the next customer in line's order. No explanation was given. I politely asked about my order, but no response was given. The next person in line's order was filled and the line started to move along past me. I inquired again, but still no response. At this point I looked around at the other customers, then left the store. I'm still not sure why exactly my order was left out and why the ladies behind the counter were ignoring me, but I have not returned since and do not plan to any time in the near future.

Second is Three Brothers. Being lactose intolerant, it is always a nuisance to have to tell everyone at restaurants to hold the cheese or not put cheese on, but I always make a special emphasis of the point. I ordered a normal order of a chicken cheese steak, without the cheese (making special emphasis because this store has gotten it wrong probably 3/5 of the time I've ordered there). Not surprisingly, they got it wrong again. Normally, I'm very forgiving of this and would not make a big deal out of it. This time was different. The manager there, after finding out that they got my order wrong and were going to have to remake it, came up to me and said, "Next time, make sure that they type it into the order." There were several things that bothered me about this. The first was the tone, which doesn't come through in print. The second was that, even though I made special note of this when ordering, apparently it is my responsibility as the customer to make sure her staff does their job correctly. Something rang false about that to me. I'm paying them for a service, and apparently I am now responsible for supervision on that service. That sounded more like her job to me than mine.

The third and final example is Sprint. I'm not sure exactly where it all started. It may be the poor level of service, it may be that they have hung up on me so many times, but Sprint is probably my least favorite company. In my most recent conversation with Sprint, they called me during the work day (for the fourth time or so) to tell me that I have an old crappy phone that I should upgrade. They of course want to provide me the upgrade for free (minus the new commitment to a 1 or 2 year contract). After the lady was laying into my phone for a while, I stopped her and said that I wanted to speak with her manager about my account. She put me on hold for about 10 minutes, then hung up on me.

So there you have it. Each of these small, almost petty seeming encounters have left a bad taste in my mouth as a consumer. We have the choice to vote with our dollars and my patronage at these companies has been lost.

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