I'm a mum of 3 beautiful children. I live in Kent but am originally from Belfast. As I get older, I find I am becoming more opinionated about everything ... other women, drivers, wine, chocolate, politics ... you name it and I'll have an opinion on it!
Has anyone else noticed how much the standards of customer service have fallen? Recently I have been less than impressed with how I, as a customer, have been treated by a range of companies. I was under the impression that the customer is always right, obviously I was wrong! Or have standards and quality of customer service just fallen ... drastically?
A few years ago I worked as a Business Consultant and one of our clients was a successful online retailer. They put the customer first and stated: "Under promise, over deliver". This always worked ... tell a customer that they will receive their order in a week, it arrives three days later, you have a happy customer. If a package gets lost in the post, is that the customer's fault? No! It's up to the business to send the order again.
Earlier today, I was treated extremely poorly by a photography company. I overpaid (by almost £10) for my daughter's first school photos. I chose the cheapest option as I didn't want to spend too much on the photos, while also wanting a reminder of her first school photo. I was assured I would get change, otherwise I would just have ordered the more expensive photos. But when I phoned the company today (Profile Photography in Herne Bay, Kent), I was informed that there was no evidence that I had overpaid and therefore I would not be receiving any change. Indeed, my word, as the customer, was not good enough. Even though the school was aware that I was owed money. In fact, the man I spoke to was so rude that he put the phone down during the conversation. Is that good customer service? If there was an OFSTED for customer service, they would be in special measures!
This is not the only company which have fallen extremely short of my (high?!) expectations. Although I don't think expecting basic manners is asking too much!
When I returned from holiday last August and commenced the post-holiday washing, I was devastated when I discovered smoke rapidly escaping from the machine. A quick visit to Comet followed and I returned home confident that I would be the proud owner of a new washing machine a few days later. As anticipated, I was last on the list for the machine to be delivered that day. Nevertheless, I didn't mind, as long as I could start working my way through the massive pile of washing that evening, I was happy (not ecstatic though, as washing clothes is a necessity, not exciting!)
So you can imagine my extreme disappointment when the men refused to remove my machine as it could potentially damage the flooring in my kitchen. I stated that I just wanted a new washing machine but they totally refused to move it, even though I paid for my old machine to be collected as well as the new one to be connected. Unfortunately I was unable to persuade them to move the machine. Were they just being lazy and wanting to finish their shift? I had the choice to send the new machine back or have it delivered and some one else come the following day to fit it, if my husband removed the old one. After some consideration, I decided it would be better to have the machine delivered. The men did help clear a space. However, bearing in mind that they wouldn't remove the old machine just in case they damaged the floor, they pushed the new one under a counter, ripping the flooring in the process. Having closely observed this, I stated that as they had already damaged the floor, they might as well remove the old machine and connect the new one. They refused. When I phoned Comet the following day they were shocked that the men failed to take the old machine - were they just being lazy? Two men turned up to fit the machine, which was done quickly. Although Comet promised to look into it, I'm still waiting for a response!
Comet were not the only company to fail to deliver an acceptable level of customer service. A while ago I ordered a new washing line (I have 3 children, I'm allowed to order boring pieces of equipment!) I waited in, on what was one of the last days of the summer holidays, for the washing line. When I phoned Homebase to enquire where it was, I was told it was out of stock! So why was I allowed to order it?! That order was cancelled by me.
Books failed to arrive from WHSmith, I was told I would have to pay again for my order (almost £100). Fortunately, they listened to my argument and re-sent the order without me having to pay any more money.
I'm sure if I took time to think about it I could come up with a lot more examples of extremely poor customer service. "The customer is always right", clearly does not apply in many companies.
I love the "under promise, over deliver", motto as customers are usually impressed with the speedy delivery and will want to continue to use the company. Is that not the aim of many companies? In the current economic conditions, surely companies should be working hard to keep their customers?
Who has infuriated you? Do you want to name and shame those companies who have delivered poor customer service? I will probably not receive my refund from the photography company and I will never get back that wasted time I spent waiting for something that was never going to be delivered, but if this makes people think twice about using these companies, then I have achieved something. Unfortunately, I will not be ordering any school photos of my beautiful daughter, unless they change the company they use. But is it really a loss? Why do we waste money on mediocre school photos when we could have done better ourselves?