Kaye’s Corner: Customer service and consequences

MEEKER I Customer service! When it is great, we bask in its warmth and caring. When it is awful, we fume and complain. Recently Jay and I discussed the consequences of customer service, both good and bad.

In general, I think we are more likely to be vocal and protest when things go wrong and less likely to say thanks when things go well. Perhaps we should think about reversing that paradigm. 

I’ve already revised this article several times. As you might suspect, it started with a series of frustrating customer service interactions. 

I couldn’t get our cell phone service to return us to the plan we had before “excessive” use on our Oregon trip. Really, one month later and you don’t offer the cheaper plan anymore? Despite our 20 years of using this vendor, we are shopping.

Meanwhile, my husband tried to return an item to a big box store in Junction who refused since he didn’t have the receipt and the purchase was more than 15 days previous. Never mind that their employee had promised this was the correct item and at a mere $50 for a new purchase, they flat out refused. Not going back there either.

These are the consequences of crummy customer service. Customers stop purchasing, often post negative comments online, and tell all their friends.

But wait! There’s also the very positive side of great customer service that shouldn’t be overlooked.

We are spoiled in a small town. Local restaurants already know our favorite meals or to split the bill when we show up with a friend. The grocery store never has a line to check out. The post office staff are pleasant despite being over worked. No lines there either!

When I chat with the support line for our art website provider, they walk me through the steps to fix a problem and don’t treat me like I’m a dumb tech no-nothing.

Our KOA campground hosts in Oregon were marvelous to put up with our extended stay, changed the site reservations of other campers since we couldn’t move our trailer, and became good friends. Jay left them a piece of art he created while camping there to say thank you.

Perhaps the nubbins of customer service is a two-way street. Respect and understanding go a long way to mitigating troublesome situations. Having a knowledgeable, well-trained staff who is also prepared to address problems helps tremendously.

The consequences of being a courteous customer are often better service, information and results. You can be upset without being rude. Remember, often the employee has no control over inventory, shipping delays, staffing shortages or business policies.

When we have so much other stuff to worry about these days and are worn down from Covid problems, let’s try to be more patient with each other, customer service included.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In last week’s column, a mention was made of a water leak at the high school. That was the result of a temporary HVAC problem, not a problem with the construction at the school. Just wanted to clarify. 

By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times

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