Saturday, May 05, 2007

Customer Service 101

I have been accused of some interesting things in my life. Some, unfortunately true. Like the time I told someone that I'd had 'Sex on the Beach'. I was referring to a drink - which I didn't have either. Nevertheless, it was a lie. And the guy I told it too soon after called me a liar. Some, fortunately false. Like the call I got from the Better Business Bureau when I worked for K, accusing me of some unfair business practices and horrid customer service. After a nice, drawn out letter-written battle, I got a respectful apology from the BBB and from the once offended student.

Being a red/blue personality has led me to some hard predicaments. My red personality wants to be fair in all my encounters, and my blue personality wants me to take all personal situations into account. This being said, I have always struggled to do what is right for the company and also for the customer.

You see, the customer is not always right. At least not be right in terms of being correct. Someone who only gave a ten dollar bill but swears they paid with a twenty, is not right. However it is also true that one negative comment or experience will spread like wildfire. A good comment or experience will only be related occasionally. I know this from having worked for fifteen plus years in the service industry. I know this from reading business strategy and methodology books. I know this from the anecdotal data on my Mommies Forum where women get together to chant, and where one discussion board is devoted solely to 'Businesses we love or hate'. Trust me, there is more hate than love there.

So it shouldn't surprise you now that I am about to share a 'hate' story with you. I have lots of good and lots of love - and sometimes I will post about the great service I always get at my neighborhood grocers , or the incredibly warm and respectful treatment I get from Wi&Wa's Dr (she has no website), or the fresh, delicious, and highly addictive food that I adore from Costa Vida.

Today's story isn't as lovely as any of the above mentioned. In fact, it is better worded here in it's original context:

A Load of Bull

What made me even madder was reading the comments. Several people talk about how the military wife shouldn't get special treatment since her hubby is in Iraq. That is neither here nor there. The radio station was having a contest FOR family members or stationed soldiers.

One person, Lloyd, even comments that given the nature of contests and people who try to win them, that no one can be trusted. He says:
"Ok Ok Ok, any radio jock will tell you that people will do whatever they feel is necessary to get ‘free stuff.’ They will beg, they will lie, they will even make up stories to make you believe that they really won something when they didn’t."

Later, in response to another comment which stated that KBULL's customer service needed some help, he replies:
"Customers? I think we will call them listeners. The radio stations do incredible work to prepare shows, showcase new music, AND they give out free stuff."

Wow - the absurdity is just leaking all of the place in those statements.

1 - Radio station listeners are customers. Any good program manager or program director will recognize that. Given that radio stations get money from sponsors and advertisers it is in their best interest to play the music that will be attract their 'customers' as well as produce commercials that are alluring to the 'customers' who are listening.
2 - The fact (or at least statement) that radio stations do incredible work to prepare their shows and showcase new music means nothing. This is their job. Should they fail to do a good job it doesn't hurt the listeners - there will always be other radio stations. Doing this says nothing about their good work ethic and relates directly to their attempts to stay in said business.
3 - 'AND they give out free stuff'. I just don't know where to start on this one. The whole notion that we are so indebted to radio stations for their act of giving out free stuff is just mind-boggling. Since E worked for two prominent radio stations I feel factual in saying this - RADIO STATIONS RECEIVE MOST OF THEIR FREE STUFF, FOR FREE! They are not buying concert tickets and then giving them away. The get promo tickets. Those amazing coffee mugs, foam fingers, and t-shirts - promotional items, usually made available to them for free by one of their advertisers.

While the situation with Emily's friend is unfortunate - and I've already expressed my opinion to K-BULL regarding it - my real sadness comes from the lack of common sense and customer service etiquette from both K-BULL and some of the bloggers' comments.

See here is the truth - K-BULL will stay on the radio. Maybe they'll issue an apology. Maybe they won't. They will get bombarded with people who are angry about the treatment of this woman. They will loose some listeners. They will probably mock this entire incident and continue to place blame on anyone but themselves. This will always happen as long as people who get treated badly do not stand up for themselves. You see, my blog comes after reading ten other blogs on this same incident. I have sent an email with the story out to all of my friends and posted it on my mommy forum. I am fueling the fire and I am ok if the fire doesn't burn down K-BULL.

What I am not ok with is people, like Lloyd, who have their heads stuck so far up their asses that they have deluded themselves into believing that behavior like this is excusable or at the very worst, ok! This is what I really want changed. Then, by the very nature of having people change stations like K-BULL would never be survive.

So they next time you get shoddy service, express it. You don't have to get all of your friends to call the place, just talk with the manager. Express it in calm tones and an open mind.

And the next time you get amazing service - above average service - express it too! After that McDonalds drive-thru employee treats you really nice and calls you Miss instead of Ma'am, grab your cell phone and call the 1-800 number they have posted on their window.

Either one makes a difference. And though I am far too much of a realist to think that any of this will extinguish all of the rude, incompetent Lloyds out there - it will make a difference in how you feel in situations and hopefully, in how the business acts in future situations.

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