R.I.P. Customer Service (Part 1)

My recent service experiences as a customer lead me to the cynical conclusion that we live in a world of assholes and assumptions. I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday and many people commented on their own gripes of the new millennium help standards. I have 16 years practice  in the service industry.  Each year I learn how to improve my level of assistance when working with clients.  At the risk of sounding high and mighty; I feel when I am the consumer and have a complaint, issue or question there are very few reps who meet my expectations on how they handle my concern. I shouldn’t have to elaborate that the title of this blog is an indication that customer service is dead. Some of the reasons for the demise are

1. Automated Agents: It may be easier breaking into Fort Knox than getting a live person on the phone nowadays. Many companies put us through a grueling verification period before they grace us with the voice of a live, capable human being. I have learned the trick of shouting at high levels, “Operator!, Agent!, Customer Service!” to speed up the process of being in touch with a person, but regardless it makes me that much more pissed off when I am finally connected.

2. Computers: I can give you an example of jobs that will be reduced/replaced by a computer. E.g. Travel Agents (with Expedia or Travelocity, people have exuberant confidence to book travel on their own), Bank Tellers (almost every bank has an automated ATM that is capable of making deposits and withdrawals, Real Estate/Leasing Agents (ForSaleByOwner.com or ForRent.com makes buying a home or renting an apartment one click away) , & Grocery Store Cashier (my Jewel has 2 self-check out machines and the lines get longer every time I go shopping) just to name a few.

3.Outsourcing Overseas: Without getting too politically charged, one of my biggest pet peeves is to speak to a representative who is not located in the same country as me.  Employees who are representing an American company in India have a robotic and trained response to my questions. The connection is often poor along with the amount of times there are pauses and complete silence while the agent is researching the answer to my question. While i have nothing against anyone from a different country, America’s unemployment rate is at 8.9%. If I have an option to choose a different company who doesn’t outsource, I will do just that.

4. Generation Y?: I have to preface this point that people should be judged on their merits and I don’t like to generalize an entire group of people; however these are the times we have been raised in. (I am part of Gen Y). Technology has made our generation lazy.  Instead of playing outside, we are flocking to our computers in the evening. We feel entitled because most of us had a further education than our parents did. Lack of work ethic/loyalty to employer. We are always looking for the next promotion and if it’s not there, we’re done. These are of course not true for everyone, but the values we were taught growing up in Gen Y are VERY different then what our parents or the baby boomers were taught.

5.  Experience vs. Education: We can all agree that a hefty percent of the workforce would prefer a college graduate than a highschool graduate.  Only completing some college, I feel quitting school to work was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made….or was it?? I really don’t know the answer to that. I will only say that a hiring manager has to have an extremely good judge of Education vs. Experience when comparing two resumes.  The bottom line is someone with experience may far exceed a college graduate’s understanding of the business or vice vs. I have a fear that we are overlooking outstanding employees with phenomenal experience due to a lack of  a college education. I also have a fear we are hiring idiots who lie about their experience and overlooking someone who put in 4 years of diligence to earn their degree.

6. Lack of Training: After spending so much time on this blog, I want to become a customer service consultant and train 1000’s of workers on how to impress in this craft; however who wants to spend more money for training in this economic crisis? In house training has replaced training workshops, motivational speakers, & outside training consultants most likely in effort to save $$$. In reality, it is likely that an untrained group will end up losing a company money. It is imperative for an institution to recognize the importance of complete and comprehensive training to a staff. 

To Be Continued……


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