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Op/Ed

Customer service nightmare that will inspire you to serve your business well

(EDITORIAL) Don’t let your business treat their customers like this. Champion for your business, don’t make them fight for you.

Two people communicating across a table about comparison.

Customer Service nightmare

Everyone has a bad day now and again, it’s unavoidable if you interact with the outside world in any way, shape, or form. However, there are certain situations that seem to invite the possibility of a bad day with open arms. One such situation? Trying to ascertain why your home telephone bill (or any bill for that matter) has drastically increased when you have made no change to the frequency of calls made.

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Thus, begins my journey into a customer service nightmare that I hope no one else experiences, but I also hope it offers a window into what can happen if businesses are not cautious about checking on the quality of customer service their employees offer. Also, let me preface this by saying that I am completely sympathetic to the fact that everyone has a bad day and one bad experience does not equal a bad company, but this was beyond bad.

Enter the bad experience:

Day One: my normally $50-ish phone bill arrives in my mailbox. I rip that envelope open and nearly faint – over $200. I do not make long distance calls from this line, I do not do much of anything with this line. I call the 1-800 number and prepare for the marathon that is waiting to speak to an actual human being. 15 minutes later (which isn’t too long, really) a customer service representative answers the phone and asks how they can help. I calmly explain the discrepancy in my bill and she proceeds to look it up on her computer. She says, “your plan no longer exists, so we transferred you to the next best plan we had available.”

My mouth drops open. Really? That’s the next “best” thing you have?

Okay. I breathe and assert that going from $50 to $200 is not only ridiculous, it’s absolutely not in my budget. She asks if I could bundle anything else…. yes, because I obviously need more services, that’s the answer. I politely decline. While she’s trying to hard sell me everything from fiber optic Internet to the NFL package, I’m using my cell phone to look up the pricing online. I find out that the plan has indeed changed.

My original plan has been re-named and has gone up a whopping….$5. Yes. $5. Not $150, but a mere $5.

Frankly, at this point, I’m starting to get frustrated. I inform my lovely representative that I can see the pricing online and I would like to be placed on this plan as it is the closest thing to what I current have/had. Silence. Then, “Umm. Ohh. Well. I’ll need to get a manager.” I say I’ll be happy to wait. 10 minutes later she’s back and asserts that she’ll have the manager call me. Wait? What. I finally agree because I’m annoyed at this point (big mistake) and hang up with the promise that the manager will call at 3pm the following day.

The experience continues…

Day Two: I await the phone call. 3 pm comes and goes, no manager. No phone call. I call around 4:15 and ask to speak to a manager as soon as the representative comes on the line. He asks what the issue is and I say I’d rather discuss it with a manager. He hangs up on me. I call back. (I don’t give up that easily). I get another representative and repeat the same mundane procedure. 30 minutes later I finally reach a manager.

They inform me that any representative could help me with this and I remind them that obviously, this hasn’t happened yet.

They ask why I need to be moved from the current plan and I remind them I never authorized it. This carries on for another 10 minutes before I state that they can either switch me back to the comparable plan or cancel all my services and I’ll go with another provider. (This seems to be the magic phrase and I hate resorting to ultimatums and threats). The manager finally says he’ll switch me (with a sigh and a terse little attitude) like he’s doing me a favor. I maintain and wait. He says the process is finalized and I’ll see a credit on my next bill for the over charge (that was a whole different argument).

I will spare you the next three arguments I had about the refund.

Day Eighteen: None of these things show on my bill; no refund, no plan change.
Day Nineteen: (I needed a day to prepare myself for another round of… ridiculousness) I call. I wait. I ask for a manager. I get a manager. I get everything fixed again. I ask for a confirmation number and a blood oath that this has been taken care of and I receive the first, but I guess they weren’t feeling Klingon enough to do the blood oath.
Day Twenty-One: Changes are still not on bill. I call again and the issue is resolved after going through two separate managers and resorting to the magic phrase, again.

What I’ve learned from this:

So far, it appears to be remedied. I did receive the credit but my next bill has yet to arrive. Here is the larger issue with this customer service nightmare (and not just that patience is a virtue): if I can see the pricing, why did I have to waste so much of my time and energy to stay with your company? It should’ve been an easy fix that came with an apology.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Do customers have to fight to stay with a company, or should companies fight to keep customers?” quote=”Should your customers have to fight to stay with your company, or should you be fighting (within reason) to keep your customers?”]

Also, the attitude of not just the representative, but the manager as well, left something to be desired. I’m not a little ray of sunshine every day, but when you’re in the business of providing a service, you unfortunately often have to put that happy face on, or do you? I guess this begs the question, does customer service require a positive attitude (again, within reason)? Should one hand know what the other is doing? In my opinion, most of my issues could have been circumvented with a good trouble-ticketing system and a follow-up from a semi-friendly representative. What are your thoughts? How do you keep these things from happening in your business?

#NotKlingonEnough

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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