Customer Service – The Story of Customer Service Failure!

At the very core, customer service is a transactional relationship between people, people representing a need, and people hired to represent a company that can fill the need.  The variables in the transaction are how the transaction occurs, the speed, cost in resources including money and time, and the business processes for compliance and business need.  Customer service is always valued by those seeking the transaction, not the company representatives involved.  When poor customer service is determined, customers will report the problem vocally and with emphasis!!!

My Internet connectivity began having significant latency, packet delivery, and reliability problems at the start of November.  I called the Internet Service Provider (ISP; Xfinity) after spending considerable time texting with a technical support representative to no avail.  I scheduled technicians to come to my house, also to no avail.  The following is the account of ineptitude, hatred of customers, and the wasting of my resources by the ISP.  As a side note, the problem is still not resolved sufficiently to handle VoIP, data transfer, and maintain reliable connectivity.  My modem has been changed, my service plan changed, my cabling has been inspected and replaced, and the problem remains at the end of December 2021.

A critical part of this story, the technicians spoken to in-person and online have been outstanding and provided excellent services, even though the problem remains.  However, the same cannot be said of those providing phone service on the account, and especially cannot be reported from the retail outlet.  Report card on the un-service received by the account representatives includes, but is not limited to:

  • Being hung up on
  • A representative who cannot pronounce their words and offered nothing but hostility
  • Unnecessarily transferred
  • Improper information provided
  • Not active listening
  • Not listening

The retail outlet, however, is exceedingly worse, with behaviors to include, but not limited to:

  • Refusing to service the customer
  • Denying customers the ability to transact business
  • Refusing the agent tools to conduct business
  • Poor information
  • Needlessly making customers wait

The excuse offered for such deplorable and ignominious behavior; the customer must wear a mask.  Even after reporting the customer could not wear a mask, the customer was refused service, denied their transaction, and threatened with arrest for not complying with mask mandates.  Seriously, in four different attempts to conduct business, the mask service refusal was used twice, twice the agent was sent to service the customer outside the retail establishment without any hope of accessing the customer’s data, and produced information that was inconsistent, at best, with that received from the telephonic agents.

Leading to a genuine question, during periods of government mandates and in extremis situations, whose job is it to prepare customer service agents to service customer transactions, the customer seeking a transaction, or the business leaders?  In extremis situations arise, almost daily, this is part of business, but how you the business leader choose to treat customers is remembered forever!  If I treated my customers, employer, and fellow employees as Xfinity has treated them, I would not be able to keep a job or have customers in my business.  Yet, too often, since 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have placed the onerous upon the customer seeking a transaction to facilitate the atmosphere and environment conducive to completing the transaction.

I admit, fully, that Xfinity, before and during the pandemic, in the three or four different states I have been unfortunate enough to be forced into becoming a customer, has had a consistent problem with customer service.  I am not singling out the experiences in Las Cruces, NM, as poor.  The entire company has a poor to terrible reputation where customer service is concerned; thus, signaling that the problem is organization-wide and leadership-centered.

Leaving the question, asked by Myron Tribus, as applicable to Xfinity/Comcast, “Is the enterprise a money-pump, or is it to be a source of good to society?”  From observation, money-pump is the only answer deducible from customers’ incredibly inhumane and disgustingly decrepit treatment.  Yes, I include employees in the customer label, for I have spoken to several employees who have left the organization in utter disgust with nothing but contempt for the leadership.

Long have I wondered if the leaders of Xfinity have ever called their customer service department, suffering through the automated answering service.  The automated answering system time to reach an agent has grown significantly and become less valuable.  Then, when you finally get to a live person, you run the risk of being hurried off the phone, hung up on, provided information sending you to a retail outlet, or heaven forbid you to have to call back multiple times in a day.  The customer is left asking about the leadership hatred for customers.

John Pinette used a line, “My cherub-like demeanor,” to discuss how he felt standing in lines, especially when a customer would ask, “How small is a small?”  Most customers can forgive a problem requiring in-depth review or additional time; most customers can even forgive a harried agent for being less than perfect.  I know of no customer who is willing to take the garbage thrown by Xfinity as “customer service” and remain pleasant and kind.  After multiple years of Xfinity’s poor customer experience with unreasonable prices, and inept employees, my “cherub-like demeanor” has evaporated!  I cannot tell which is worse, the DMV, the VA, AT&T, or Xfinity, where incredibly useless customer service is concerned.

Please note, replacements for your services are actively being pursued.  I will not tolerate longer the abuse of the customer!  I will no longer be the customer waiting for improvements!  I will not be ignored or denied service when I pay such extortionate rates and receive deplorable (at best) service and support!  To all the Xfinity customers, evaluate the price to value equation for yourself, and if you agree, join me in seeking out the competition!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

The Role of Customer Service – Find Solutions!

Bird of Prey24 September 2021 UPDATE:  For the record, the doctor’s appointment forming the central element of this article was with Advanced Neurology Epilepsy & Sleep Center (ANESC), Dr. Aamr A. Herekar M.D.  The staff are now trying to report that I was threatening, demanding, insulting, and reportedly told the commando secretary to “sit on my lap.”  All of which I strongly and hotly contest.  I was at all times professional, but firm.  I did not swear.  I did not insult the staff.  I did not breach professional conduct.  I have never asked any male or female to EVER sit on my lap.  When told to get a face shield, I went to my vehicle, retrieved the face shield, and wore the face shield for the appointment.  For the commando secretary and other staff to accuse me of this behavior is disingenuous at best and I am glad to be rid of this provider.  If you are in the El Paso, TX., are, beware if you are referred to this clinic!

I do not care if there is a pandemic or not!  I care even less if there is sunshine or rain, wind, snow, sleet, or hurricanes.  Guess what; neither do those people expecting customer service.  They want solutions, and when they do not obtain solutions, that customer will be looking at your competition and wondering if their needs can be met elsewhere.Angry Grizzly Bear

Let me set the scene.  I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment this morning.  I traveled more than an hour for an early morning appointment, which included surviving multiple school zones, crazy rush hour parents trying to get kids into school and themselves onto work, and the inevitable school buses working tirelessly to deliver children to school safely.  All of this I can accept; I agreed to the early morning doctor’s appointment as I need to do things this afternoon.  Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, I am greeted by a commando secretary, who knows I have a breathing problem and cannot wear a mask.  Who invents a reason to deny me care.  She calls a supervisor, then “politely” invites me to a back room to try and tell me off.  She then walks out when I suggested she had two options, move my care to another neurologist or have me wear a face shield, and I was leaning towards option 1.

Since January, this scene has repeated itself more than 10-times in two different states, and frankly, I am sick to death of customer service people who refuse to look first for solutions!  Your first duty in customer relations is to find solutions, not complain someone is not wearing a mask, not embarrass, isolate, and denigrate.  Your entire mission is to find solutions that will work with government mandates, business policies, and customer needs.

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1For example, I was a new patient at a medical clinic.  I explained my mask predicament, and the business already had a procedure to protect those wearing masks and accommodate those who could not wear a mask.  Better still, it did not require a supervisor, it did not require special approval, I did not have to be embarrassed by office staff judgments, nor did I have to fight for my right to breathe.  Two different medical offices, two wildly different approaches to the same customer problem, and two phenomenally different solutions and different mental strategies from staff to provide customer service.

Was discussing cellphone service providers; provider one has deplorable customer service, provider two is not much better, and there is no third option.  I asked about solutions for small businesses to compare between the two providers and was aghast at the lack of interest in providing help to owner/operator small businesses.  I do upwards of $3600 in cellphone business a year; yet, even though I have five lines personally and pay for an additional one for my spouse, and am a small business owner, the cellphone provider is not interested in looking for solutions for small businesses.  Is it any wonder that customers are looking for options to ditch their phones?

Call Center BeansInternet providers are another huge pain point for me and my business on the topic of service providers and detestable customer service.  After moving, I am paying double for my Internet service connection, not paying double for the same speeds.  Paying double and not getting similar speeds.  Worse, the customer inattention has gone downhill since I was last a customer of this company 18-months prior.  I have been told that deregulation is why Internet providers cannot compete fairly in markets and scoff.  I have been informed, several times, that the reason the costs are so high for Internet connection is from outdated equipment.  I have scoffed again.  When Google tried to muscle into Phoenix, the current Internet providers threw an unholy fit, and Google was rejected the permits through legal, regulatory means.  Apparently, competition continues to be anathema to cellular phones and Internet service providers, all while these same providers abuse customers and refuse to perform basic customer service, such as finding solutions!

What is the solution; I offer the following as potential places to begin launching a customer service revolution.

    1. Commit to finding solutions first. Quicken Loans is one company I know that asserts that they want to say YES before saying no.  Commit to the same; demand your people learn how to say YES!
    2. This might sound old-fashioned, but believe it or not, it works. Smile and say please and thank you!  When you are thanked, say you’re welcome.  Manners matter in setting the tone in customer relations.  A smile goes a long way to setting the proper tone.
    3. Another potentially old-fashioned idea, but worth considering if your front office staff looks rough. Customers will automatically not want to do business with you if their first impression is tattoos, body piercings, crazy hair, long nails, and scowling faces.  The doctor’s office, the lead office support person, is covered in tattoos, has a body piercing that draws attention to body areas that make professional interactions difficult to conduct. Her hair matches her demeanor, rough and disruptive.

Knowledge Check!Please note, I am not against tattoos and body piercings.  In professional settings, restraint is needed to show respect to the business environment and not distract properly.  The nursing staff all have tattoos, and they are not as disruptive as the lead office support person.  Others have body piercings on their faces, ears, heads, and body parts.  But, these are not distracting, and drawing attention to body parts best left unnoticed in professional settings.  There is a distinct difference between acceptable and unacceptable, and business owners will need to draw a line or be prepared to have problems with customers.

    1. Post in a prominent position what the customer commitment is and who to contact if customer attention fails. Want to raise awareness of customer solutions, post your commitment, and then live that commitment.
    2. Technology is wonderful; there need to be reliable replacement channels when you eliminate a communication channel. For example, the doctor I visited they do not have incoming phone calls.  You can text the doctor’s office, you can fax the doctor’s office, you can send messages through a group insurance website, and you can email the doctor’s office.  When you insist the doctor’s office do something to fit another bureaucracy, e.g., the VA, the office support staff through a fit and stop responding to text messages and emails.   So, not only is their attitudes inappropriate, the customer service communication channels are throttled intentionally to avoid angry callers.  Forcing patients to have to deal in person when technology is made to fail.

WhyCommit to customer relations, find solutions.  Commit to saying YES!  You will be surprised how fast people become customers and want to remain customers when employees representing your business are committed to finding solutions first and excuses NEVER!  End the abuse of customers; I know which doctor I will be ending my relationship with as soon as humanly possible, and I will leave online customer service reports.  Abuse me as a customer, and I will go out of my way to make sure other customers and potential customers know.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.