Customer Service should start with common sense

Written by on December 3, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

confusedA huge amount is written about customer service and customer experience. Every day, news feeds from Google and elsewhere deliver pages of new articles on the subject. Most, written by marketing people, start with ’10 things you can do….,’ or ‘five tips for enhancing….’ and all of it is great, probably. But very little seems to focus on common sense.

Here is an example of a lack of common sense from a subscription based TV company in the UK.

Customer Service Representative: “Hello, this is Lisa (actually she wasn’t called Lisa) from Pie TV.”

Us: “ Hello.” Glance at watch. Sigh.

Lisa: “This is a courtesy call. You recently signed up to Pie TV and I wanted to make sure everything is alright.”

Us: another glance at watch. How rude would it be to simply hang up on this obvious attempt at up-selling?

Lisa: “Are you happy with Pie TV so far?”

Us: “Yes, thank you. It’s great.”

Lisa: “That’s good. Actually, I just wanted to tell you about a great deal we have at the moment, do you have a minute?”

Us: Sigh, she means at least 20 minutes. “Yes, but can we be quick, I have a meeting in five minutes?”

Two lies in 30 seconds.

Lisa: “Just for security reasons, can I just ask you a couple of questions?”

Us: silence. A small smile. An article in the making? “Er, say again…”

Lisa: “I just need to ask you a couple of security questions.”

Us: “Why? You rang me. On my personal mobile phone. I can confirm I am definitely me.”

Lisa: “Sorry, I am not allowed to talk to you unless I can verify that you are the person that we have on our records.”

Us: “That’s fine. So, um, don’t.”

Lisa (a little strained): “But there are only a couple of questions.”

Us: “But you phoned me. Why do you need to verify who I am?”

Lisa (more strained): “We need to know that you are the account holder.”

Us (feeling a little mean): “Hang on, let me check. (pause) Yes, I am.”

Lisa: “But, I do need to ask you a couple of questions. Otherwise I can’t talk to you.”

Us: “ You know this is nuts, right?”

Lisa (after a pause): “I am sorry, but….”

Us: “Lisa, you phoned me. And it seems that you cannot talk to me, because you need to know that you phoned me and I am me.”

Lisa: “We cannot…”

Us (feeling a little cruel): “Lisa, it seems there is no way we can talk. I’m sorry about that.”

Pause. Click.

What is wrong with the customer service world, where a company rings a customer and has to go through this ridiculous charade?

A coffee with an interesting new contact the other day provided another example. He had been a customer of his bank for 30 years. He had personally known his bank manager for 15. He went to see his bank manager and said bank manager needed to see an official form of identification and a utility bill in order to do business. Both laughed.

But it really is not funny.

Customer service and the relationships on which long term business are built are being eroded by the emasculation of personal authority and the death of common sense.

Perhaps we should consider a Common Sense Bill, to be passed by all Governments, that allows those with authority to act with authority. In customer service, and, well, everything.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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