Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Customer Service

Customer service sure isn’t what it used to be. I think part of that is due to the fact that a lot is no longer done face-to-face. The words convenient, new, and automated phone service should never be used together. Take for example my recent efforts to just find out if my doctor is covered under our new insurance carrier.

I spent the better part of an hour going through their automated toll-free number before by shear luck I got a hold of a real person who gave me a short cut through the new convenient system. Yes my doctor is part of the plan, which I thought I could easily find out through their website. Alas my insurance card had two types of plans listed on it. That’s why I was trying to reach a real person in the first place. I found out one shouldn’t have been listed and actually creates a lot of questions for them. I wonder how many of those questions are as easily answered.

Many businesses go with automated phone service now. I’ve run into that with the State Patrol, school districts, businesses, etc. We even have one at our radio stations offices. It’s on after hours. Granted that’s not an easy system for some people. In checking for weather cancellations one morning I stumbled across messages from a man who wanted to get a birthday on the air. Of course we do that live on KFIZ six mornings a week and take them ahead of time during business hours as well. Still it was inconvenient for him.

With the Internet a lot more inquiries are being done on line. I sometimes do that, but still prefer doing it over the phone or in person. Shopping is still a feel good experience for me although every once in a while you are going to have a bad experience. How mad does it make you to see an item in a flyer and then be told when you get to the store that they were only allowed to carry a certain number or that their particular store wasn’t allowed to stock that item? Buyer beware!

We are coming up on that time of year when Christmas shopping has us scrutinizing our purchases a little more carefully. I can’t tell you how much I agonize about the amount of time I want to spend in a crowded store. Add a little short temperedness of some shoppers and overworked clerks and you have the recipe for Bah Humbug. Remembering the reason for the season helps me get through it.

Generally the bigger the company the more lax the customer service seems to be. Recently a part in our central printer broke down. One of our ladies in the front office spent an hour and eight minutes on hold waiting for a real person to help her out. A couple more such calls and the better part of a week later our printer, which everyones' computers in the building are linked to, was up and running again. And you wonder why the corporate company that makes that printer went through a boardroom scandal in the past year?

Now for something nice to say! My experiences with local companies have been first rate. I call quite a few in connection with news stories. So my thanks to Mercury Marine, G & L, BCI Burke, Quad Graphics, Mid States Aluminum and a host of others. I don’t know how they treat their customers, but if they are as kind and courteous to them as they have been to this reporter, they’re being treated like royalty.