Hopefully you recall my last post about the customer service ineptness of my former electric co-op in the north Georgia mountains, but if not you can click here and read it before picking up today’s story.
…Now that we’re on the same page, enjoy reading about Karen, a CSR at the cable company that provided the internet and television to our aforementioned North Georgia residence. I was told in order to close my account, I needed to physically bring in the 3 digital converters and the internet modem that belonged to them. Apparently I had been “renting” these devices for 7 years. After that investment, those items should have been given to us as “parting gifts.”
Notwithstanding that, the morning of the real estate closing, I drove into town, schlepping the aforementioned items to the cable company in a Wal-Mart bag. Karen dutifully checked the contents and carefully typed a receipt, including the serial numbers of each item, which of course was, oh so very important to me. She smiled and handed me the receipt as she said, “you’re good to go.” Somehow it must have slipped her mind to thank me for my 7 years of loyalty and on time bill paying mastery. Heck, she didn’t even ask why we were discontinuing our service. She was probably just scared I might respond by informing her we were switching to DISH or DirectTV.
After my visit with Karen, my faith in good ole American customer service had been partly restored until 3 weeks after the real estate closing, when I received my “final bill” at our now, sole address, 5 hours away from those beautiful mountains. As I opened the envelope I broke out in hives as I read through my “monthly” bill, not my “final” bill, which also included $185 in unreturned equipment charges.
I conducted a quick “stay calm” self-talk moment and immediately reached for my phone and called the “customer service” number for that company, where a friendly voice answered identifying herself as “Karen”. That rang a bell, so I quickly unfolded the receipt I luckily kept and the CSR initials were KD. I politely responded by asking if her last name started with a “D”, to which she said, “yes it does.” Being a small company in a small town, I gambled and told her I thought she was the lady who waited on me, and mentioned my Wal-Mart bag, along with a silly statement I made about grandkids while she was waiting on me. She immediately responded by saying that she absolutely remembered me.
I stated my case to her and while I spoke she obviously looked up and verified what I was telling her. She asked if I would hold long enough for her to call over to the folks that log in turned-in equipment. In a couple of minutes she came back and said that my bag of stuff was still sitting in that department, but because that guy had been real busy, it hadn’t been logged in and credited to my account. I snidely responded that, “Oh, you’ve got time to send out monthly invoices, but three weeks isn’t long enough to process a credit and close an account for a long-term customer?”
Karen’s answer was very tentative; telling me that I should not pay anything, but simply wait another month for my “final bill,” after the clerk got around to crediting me for my equipment turn-in, and then call her back and we would see where things stood. Somehow I don’t think she heard that response in a training class.
After hanging up the phone it immediately dawned on me that since they bill for services in advance, and considering that I had cancelled my service, they actually would owe me money.
Well, a full month later I received another monthly bill (they got that part down pat). The equipment turn-in charges were miraculously reversed and the in-advance monthly service fees were removed. But after the angels stopped singing, this month-after cable bill showed a credit balance of $55 and change, as I suspected. I looked once more thoroughly through the envelope, but was left with two unresolved problems. The account did not show that it had been closed and there was no cable company refund check enclosed for the amount of my credit balance.
Of course I picked up the phone and called Karen, as she requested. After providing her with my customer number and refreshing her memory, I asked her my two unresolved questions. Her answer sounded like a description of a washing machine. She said what has to happen next is for my account to go through one more billing cycle and then about this time next month my account would officially be closed and a refund check would be issued and mailed to me. My curiosity got the best of me so I asked Karen what else would be happening to my account that would require that much longer to finalize. I sat there picturing in my mind all the members of their board of directors rubbing their corporate chins trying to decide whether to allow my cancellation notice to go forward. (Maybe the extra-extra month is designed as a cooling off period, as I might change my mind?) The comedy here is that I haven’t even owned the place for two months now!
Her answer was classic. “That’s our company’s policy.” As of publication day for this post I’m still waiting; but now it’s not just the $55, I’M ON A MISSION! Ever felt this way?
The reason this 2-part post is important to you, is because these two examples both point up how one weak link in a chain renders the entire company incompetent in the mind of its customers. Both businesses failed the “seamless” test you’ve heard me extol. This always leads to finger-pointing and eventual higher employee turnover, not to mention customer dissatisfaction, which triggers customer turnover, as well.
————Customer Service Need Improvement? ————
Your employees don’t have to continue being frustrated, and your left hand can know what your right hand is doing. Why not investigate and see if Doug can help your company improve the customer experience. Look here.
©2016 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC