I have been besieged by unbelievably bad customer service experiences recently.  Yes, I teach customer service workshops and yes, I believe that probably does make me a little bit more sensitive than your average person to the nuances of both good and bad service.  But honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up.  It’s bad.

I tried to place an order with a silk screen company that does corporate logo’d shirts recently.  After talking to the shop on the phone, I emailed my order as instructed and asked for pricing.  After one week, no response.  I emailed again.  No response.  Thinking perhaps we were having email problems, I called and left a message.  No response.  Finally I went to another vendor, but not before sending an email to the shop owner congratulating him for having such a thriving business that he no longer needed new customers.

The week before that I battled with a computer repair service that does routine maintenance on your computer by remoting into it so you don’t have to bring it into the shop.  Great concept, but the tech argued with me about the problem I reported to him and told me I must be imagining it.  Then the salesperson sold me a subscription service I didn’t need by confusing the heck out of me during the payment process, and it took me three phone calls to cancel it.  Then I started getting one or two calls per week from salespeople at the same company, on my cell phone, trying to sell me the subscription service again.

Don’t even get me started on the airlines and the rental car companies I’ve dealt with lately.  There’s always a bad story there, and I’ve got more than the usual number of them this year.

It seems too easy to say that a decline in customer service is due solely to a bad economy, to companies down-sizing and asking employees to do more with less.  I’m sure that’s part of it.  But it also seems like people just don’t care.  They’re fed up and exhausted and they just want to get through their day and get the heck out of the office or the shop.  You can’t fix a problem like that with training, nor even with an increase in resources and support.  Once a company’s employees lose interest in customer service and it becomes part of their culture, nothing short of an overhaul will improve the situation.

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