May I Help You? #CustomerService #DadChat #Verizon

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

Customer Service Comic

I grew up in a truly different world. Born in the fifties, life was simpler and people seemed kinder and more eager to help each other. Perhaps I’m looking back at it through rose-colored memories but I do know that some things were decidedly better. Please see “Final Note” at the end of this column about Verizon – my #1 pick for WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE

For instance, when going to a gas station, customers would be greeted by a uniformed gas station attendant – usually a male adult (the gender isn’t my point but it was more men than women in the workforce then) – who would come up to the driver’s side window and ask what grade of gas you would like him to pump for you. He’d also ask if you wanted him to check your oil level, tire pressure, and he’d clean your windshield. ALL as part of their “service.”

Satisfaction as song for Customer Service

Yes, “service” had a much different meaning in those “good ol’ days” than the lack of it does today. There were quaint things called “shoe stores” in which shoe salesman would greet their customers by name (the regulars). Again, most were men, and most were dressed in a shirt and tie. They’d greet you; ask about your family, and what you wanted. They’d know your shoe size, your preferences for particular brands, and they’d slip on the shoes with a shoehorn on your feet. Few of these “professionals” pushed or did hard selling. You felt served, appreciated, and respected.

Iconic architecture

I remember our favorite department store. It was The May Company and their flagship store was the largest single building in Los Angeles for many years and had a very distinctive art deco appearance. You’d go into that store and elevator operators would ask you what floor you wanted to go to and announce “Men’s furnishings, ladies lingerie” or the like as you landed on each floor. They were uniformed.

When you entered ANY department you were greeted with a smile by a professional salesperson with a simple, “May I help you?” They usually knew where EVERYTHING was in their department and most everything in the store. Again, the shopping experience was pleasant and the customer was treated like someone of value, let alone treated with respect and courtesy.

Real Customer Service

What is it like TODAY when you go to the gas station, Target, or Walmart, and are there any neighborhood shoe stores left, let alone neighborhood bookstores?

What about the need for customer service with your “utilities” which, in my childhood, comprised of gas and electric, water, and a phone. One could call ANY of these “utilities” and quickly get an English-speaking, polite, representative who would quickly help you with most ANY problem. If the problem necessitated a home visit, it would be quickly scheduled and the time honored. How quaint. How old-fashioned.

Recently, I had the misfortune of trying REPEATEDLY to get a bill issue solved with Verizon (Wireless). It was a Kafkaesque nightmare of phone menu options, disconnected calls, and robotic people repeating scripted lines with NO ability to make an independent decision to help me. I literally spent HOURS on the phone with them. I finally gave up, paid their extortion fee (literally what it was), and sincerely hope I NEVER have to deal with them again.

Customer Service IRL

I’ve had similar experiences with so many other companies and so many of these are relative necessities in today’s world.

Then, there are the government “agencies” that we taxpayers fund and are “supposed” to be working for us. As they say in Brooklyn “forgettaboutit.” My son got into a small car accident and the police arrived to “investigate.” A police report was filed. Our insurance asked to see said “police report.” Was it readily available? NO. Was it free when it was available? NO. We had to pay $25 and give them a self-addresses stamped envelope and it took two months to get it.

I got a toll-road ticket not so long ago. Evidently, the “ticket” was lost in the mail because it’s one of those automated photo-tickets. I called the number on the form but could NEVER get an answer. I was assessed late penalties and other such fees for a $3.40 fine. Total cost to get rid of it: $108. Could I get ANYONE to respond to anything from an email or a phone call? You know the answer.

CustServ comic

Most people who work in customer service, truly a misnomer these days, do not utter the words, “May I help you”. Most companies will not allow you easy access to a representative and getting anyone to creatively work with a customer to solve a problem is impossible. It’s a sad state of affairs and I do long for those simpler days…

Final Note: Verizon now TOPS my list of extremely bad customer service PLUS they’ve added extortion to their lousy habits as I’ve been UNABLE to close my account for eight months! After the “last” fee I paid which was noted in this column earlier, I received another bill and began the entire process over again. I was promised a call-back from a supervisor but have yet to receive it! I’ve been regularly lied to after paying “final” fees repeatedly. I actually have NO IDEA how to get them off my back!

  • jack43

    Let me tell you a story…

    Once upon a time, I worked as a consumer relations correspondent answering letters sent to a camera manufacturer about their products and features, and sometimes a complaint. Occasionally, a complaint arrived by phone. On one such occasion, a customer complained that she had returned from a trip to Ireland to discover that none of her photos (taken with one of our products) had come out. It was a brand new camera, not removed from the box until she arrived at her destination. (Yeah, she should have tried it before she went.)

    She ranted for several minutes while I listened without responding. She paused, I supposed, to take a breath and then launched into another tirade.

    The second pause, I supposed, was to determine if anyone was on the other end of the connection listening to her. Still I made no response, no sound, and she resumed.

    On the third pause, I waited and so did she. Finally, I said, “You know what?”

    “What?”

    “I have a wisdom tooth coming in and you just made me forget how bad it hurt.”

    She broke out laughing…

    After getting her name and number, I told her to hang up and allow me to call back so that she wouldn’t waste her dime on the call. I gave myself enough time to gather my thoughts and then called back.

    I had a replacement for her camera mailed to her and contacted some of the professional photographers we used for our advertising photos. They provided photos of the places she had visited from their stock photo collections.

    Now that’s customer service the way it used to be

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      But @jack43:disqus – was the original camera defective?

      • jack43

        Yes. There’s always a chance of that and everyone should try out equipment, all kinds of equipment, before they attempt to use it when it counts.

  • http://moondustwriter.com Leslie Moon

    Two of my kids are in retail. When they try to take care of a customer (taking time to find out the problem) they are criticized by management for “making promises.” I was reminded of going to a shoe store and being treated like royalty. Now you are lucky to get a seat to try on shoes.
    Wont go to Verizon any time soon…

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @moondustwriter:disqus – it’s hard to believe but with ALL my #SocialMedia blasting of @Verizon they STILL have not made ANY effort to really help me! I just get B.S. about “We don’t want you to feel you’ve been lied to” as if it’s a “feeling” NOT A REALITY that THEY lied to me repeatedly!

  • David Weber

    One of the most horrible among the many horrible realities of contemporary life in these here United States is customer service. You’re absolutely correct. Occasionally one will encounter some points of light, but seldom.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus – I’m sure YOU remember going to a shoe store and getting REAL customer service, let alone the other examples we both know and remember so well, David!

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