Surprises… Not the Good Kind


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By Laura Schwartz – Area Sales Manager, Jacada Inc.

Last week, after months of anticipation, we finally moved into our new home!  We were so excited and even though we were (and are!) knee deep in boxes, my husband and I were looking forward to having our internet and cable service connected so we could all take a break and watch some TV.

And let me just say, I wish I was blogging about a great customer experience this week – the minute I have a wonderful customer experience, I will shout it from the mountaintops!  But I’m blogging about this because it just goes to show how pervasive the problem of poor customer experience is… and given that we’re in 2010 and there are solutions to it, I’m still surprised when I have bad experiences.

We arranged for our cable provider to come and set up our internet and cable service in the new house.  Now, before you call me out for being naïve, I know two things: a.) cable companies in general are not known for being great at customer service and b.) tired new homeowners are not necessarily in the best mood to begin with.  But still, I wasn’t looking for this to be a party, I just wanted quick, efficient and effective service, like most people do.  Anyway, we realized that we needed another high speed internet box from the provider and the technician didn’t have one on his truck.  So he told us to call the company’s 1-800 number and get one.  My husband called the call center and asked about purchasing a high speed internet box from the local store near our house.  They said they couldn’t tell us in advance if the box was in stock at the local store and that we needed to just go there and see.  Surprise number 1…this is a very large company, who has been in this business a long time.  I can’t believe in 2010 they wouldn’t have the systems in place that would give them visibility into in-store stock.

Regardless, my husband went down to the local store and was greeted by a line of 20+ people.   After close to an hour in line – which, let’s face it, is not fun for the employees or the customers – he asked for the high speed box and explained to the store representative that he called the call center on the 1-800 line but they couldn’t tell him if they had this box in stock.  The store rep told him that “if they pre-arranged and pulled products for every customer that wanted one, they would have no room to move around the store.”  Surprise number 2… so, having a lot of customer needs is a BAD thing?   Gee, what a terrible problem to have!

We got the box and the technician came back to install it, which was another expensive service call that could have been avoided had the technician had the box originally.  The technician waited while my husband was busy finishing up a call.   At one point, he told me, that “he has a schedule and that he was tired of waiting”.   To which I replied, “well if you add up all the time we waited on your company, your wait would seem like a blip on the radar!”  Surprise number 3… this company is quite large and has thousands of employees who are its brand ambassadors to the general public.  Perhaps this was an isolated case, but it can’t be emphasized enough that those on the frontlines, whether they are installing product, fixing issues or otherwise helping customers, are in customer service roles, whether they realize it or not.  And every interaction they have makes customers more or less likely to continue doing business with that company.  

I shared this story with several of my colleagues, most of whom have an equally surprising story about this particular cable provider, who has earned a reputation as having very poor customer service.  I’d like to hear about – and have more – good customer service experiences.  What are some good customer service stories that you have?  Who are some of the companies you love to do business with?  Are any of them in the satellite TV, cable or Internet service market?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Cindy Knezevich
Cindy Knezevich is Director of Global Product Marketing & Communications at Jacada (NASDAQ: JCDA), a leading provider of unified desktop and process optimization software solutions for the customer service and support market.


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