I'm just back from a great evening at the Slingshot client dinner, featuring Joseph Jaffe. Surely some of you linkers and lurkers know Joseph Jaffe - certainly the Art of the Conversation crowd knows him. Most bloggers have at least heard his name.
He harped on all kinds of great stuff but one thing I found myself pondering is this: of all the things brands think they can outsource, why does customer service seem like a good idea?
How important do you feel to be connected (and subsequently put on hold and then maybe dropped and maybe or maybe not reconnected) to a customer service associate with a strange accent on a bad connection?
Think about this: the only people that call customer service are YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, right? Shouldn't you spend twice as much money keeping and nurturing your existing client relationships as you do creating new ones? If you did, would the new ones create themselves?
Think about this: if you google Verizon Ecenter or USair miles reinstated you get diatribe-esque results from the unwashed likes of ME, your consumer, in the first ten results.
Wholly FUCK! you may say (esp. if you're one of the two clients whose customer service is systematically dissected and exposed in each of those posts - which I assure you, are the two most frequently read posts on this blog by far).
If you are Verizon or USair (or UPS or Sprint), you may think you have bigger problems right now than one blogger. Having used and been disappointed by your products, I'd agree with you.
However, Joseph's hypothesis and mine are the same: your customers matter in ways you aren't addressing. And Lord only knows why.
I have a Verizon account (and I fucking HATE Verizon) and I fly, begrudgingly on USair. And rather than vote with my feet and my dollars, I prefer to vote with my discontent in both of these brands and their products. I've paid outrageously in time, money and aggravation for the right to do so. And goddammit I'll get every penny's worth.
The fact that neither of these companies has what I consider to be outstanding customer service (the kind I'll rave about from Southwest Airlines, USAA, Zappos, and Apple) proves to me that these companies have lost touch with their consumers. And think it's okay to send us form emails. And lead us to FAQs that in turn lead us to FAQs in a never ending, and utterly frustrating loop of, "was this item helpful?"
I voice a thundering "NO, IT WAS NOT HELPFUL" here. For you. And your friends. And anyone with a search engine. And some dignity.