Customers Get Dissed and Tell

Posted on February 28, 2008  Comments (6)

There are those rare companies where interacting with them is not a dreaded experience: Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton, Crutchfield, Cannon, Groovix. There are not many. And even just providing something that just works is seen as a treat. The all too common dis-service, combined with the internet, leads to Consumer Vigilantes:

a growing disconnect between the experience companies promise and customers’ perceptions of what they actually get.

A swell of corporate distrust – exacerbated by high executive pay, accounting lapses, and the offshoring of jobs – has people feeling more at odds with companies than ever before.

Years of dialing the call center for a technician yielded at least eight missed appointments by Comcast, he says, but a post on ComcastMustDie brought a phone call the next morning and, later, a lead technician who showed up on time. Now, Salup says: “Anytime I have a problem, I also post it on the blog.”

Pretty lousy systems thinking (or really failures to think systemically). Pay executives obscenely and cut service until customers literally can’t stand you so much they don’t just want to avoid you they want you out of business.

And then instead of fixing the system, just burn the toast (follow the link for an explanation). Then wait from those that get the burnt toast to tell everyone that you sold them burnt toast. Then, after they do that, go scrape it for them. This is not what Dr. Deming meant when he encouraged companies to eliminate the need to inspect for quality. Of course you know that (you are reading this blog after all). Maybe the business schools decided to cut down Deming’s ideas to just eliminating inspection and a couple other sound bites. And then tell the MBA’s not to bother reading all the rest of that… we have to get on to the cost reduction strategies that will make sure you move into the c-level and get the real money.

Most customers, of course, don’t have the time or energy to go that far in their service insurgencies. They want an apology, a human being who answers the phone, or simply some bottled water after a few hours sitting on the airport tarmac

But some companies just push people so far they have to let people know about how poorly they have been treated. Some past posts highlight the frustrating experiences bloggers, including me, share about how badly we have been treated: Ritz Carlton (good) and Home Depot (bad)Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover CardMore Bad Customer Service ExamplesPoor Service, an Industry Standard? (HP)Comcast HD DVR Is Simply, Terribly Awful

Consumerist, is a great site, doing what it can to counter some of the horrible service.

6 Responses to “Customers Get Dissed and Tell”

  1. Shaun Sayers
    February 29th, 2008 @ 11:00 am

    Ha! You are sooooo right, John. Yesterday I became a victim of such disdain at the hands of a retailer who you’d think would know better(honest mistakes you can live with, it’s the contempt that is harder to take)

    Anyhoo, I’ll attach an addendum to this comment sometime next week when I get round to my “tell” part of the “diss and tell” exchange. It’s going on my blog. They can receive my first customer service “razzie” of the year

  2. CuriousCat: Why is Customer Service So Bad?
    May 24th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    Is it possible that only a few people actually care about service?

  3. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Verizon Provides Lousy Service = Dog Bites Man
    July 3rd, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

    […] is obvious a few companies don’t have any ability to, provide even just reasonably bad service (for them the goal of decent service is so far away as to not be reasonable). How often do Verizon […]

  4. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Not Exactly Lean Packaging
    July 23rd, 2008 @ 8:49 am

    It is hard to imagine what management system creates such solutions. But it is not hard to image Dilbert’s pointy haired boss fitting right in there…

  5. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Build an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation Flourishes
    August 8th, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

    […] motivate people to put the customer first, create an environment where the customer is put first (Crutchfield, Trader Joe’s, Southwest). Instead of trying to re-motivate people after soul crushing meetings eliminate the meetings. […]

  6. Rude Behavior Costs Companies » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    September 26th, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    […] majority of the respondents went home and told friends and family members about the incident (and connected customers often speak out online to large audiences about bad customer service). Without reports, managers are unable to address the issue with employees. The study found that […]

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