In the mail this past week, I received a “Collection” letter. Now, before you start worrying about my finances, don’t. This letter was from a satellite radio service (XM, to be exact) of which I’ve enjoyed 4 years of entertainment. In this case, I was not exactly entertained. In fact, I was quite mad. The letter went on to say my yearly payment was due and in their attempt to put it through, my credit card company kicked it back, hence the letter. What? No call? No nice letter saying “could you kindly update your info?” No, none of these warm fuzzies. Just a nasty gram, well, not only that, but an utterly frustrating phone exchange.
Service Means Listening First
I pity people that have to handle me in a customer service capacity because I have so little patience for bad service. To summarize a rather ridiculous phone call that I had, I can only say that I hope other companies are listening…and learning:
- After calling in and waiting on hold for about 5 minutes, I get a person with a very heavy accent and poor command of English, so I’m forced to repeat myself over and over just to get through the call. I can sense his frustration too, but I’m the customer, right? If this is an off-shore customer service center, it’s yet another reason to not outsource this level of a company’s work.
- He can’t help me, can’t explain why their only correspondence is a collection letter, has never seen one before, he can only process a payment. He can’t even refer me to someone that can explain it!
- Before ending the call, he asks what I like about their service. After telling him there are several pockets where reception is very poor, he counters with, “That’s great!” I have some deals to tell you about! Are we even in the same conversation? I’ve just told you your service is not ideal and you want to sell me a new subscription, 3 year contract and a new radio for my home? Are you kidding?
- After declining 4 different offers for 4 completely different “new and improved” plans, I tell him we’re done with the call, I’m hanging up. I kid you not, he starts in with another offer of another kind and I finally have to hang up, probably leaving him scratching his head.
To say I was dumbfounded by this experience is to say there’s snow on the Rockies. Duh. Is this experience his fault? Not at all. He’s been told “get through that script!” This poor sap has been given a limited amount of tools and information, not to mention authority. The blame rests squarely with XM. If you have a customer that is not happy or complains about your service directly to you, you now have an opportunity to make them happier by first listening, and secondly acting in their favor.
The lesson? Take care of your customers by arming your team with the right tools, authority and answers to help your customer immediately. Train your team to listen first and then make every effort to turn your irate customer into a happy one. Oh, and if you need a new credit card from them, make a call, don’t send a snotty demand letter as your first form of contact. Just plain stupid. (photo courtesy: aussiegall)