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February 10, 2013

Good customer service deserves reward

by wahoosteel92

When I was preparing to move to Charlottesville this past Fall, I did what almost any new tenant does before arriving — set up cable and internet. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I started by talking to a Comcast representative who sold me on a fairly standard package and was a genuinely nice guy. He recommended I set up the cable and internet myself to save a few dollars and said that, if I could “set up a video game console,” I could set up a cable box. 

When I first arrived to my apartment, I saw a big red box waiting for me with all of my cable and internet needs (i.e. router, cable box, HDMI cables, cords). Setting up the cable box was simple enough, but nothing happened when I turned it on. The detailed instructions I was following said I needed to activate the box to get my cable to work, but this wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. Comcast’s problem, not mine. Unfortunately it came down to my last resort, calling Comcast myself and having them activate the box for me. I placed a call, spent 5-10 minutes of pushing buttons on an automated system, was supposedly being connected to someone who could handle my problem, then spent 45 minutes on hold waiting for said representative . Don’t get me wrong, I love classical music, but not when it’s on repeat and blaring over my speaker phone while I impatiently wait for someone, ANYONE, to take my call. Finally, someone answers. Here we go.

Again, I must reiterate how easy my problem was. I just needed Comcast to activate my cable box. That includes taking my account information and activating my box. Nothing more. This would have been easy, but not with the person that finally answered the phone. The accent didn’t bother me, but it was clear that English was not this man’s native language. I seriously felt bad for how many times I had to get this guy to repeat himself. Long story short, I finally got my problem across, and he remedied the situation with literally the click of a button. Problem solved, but an evening wasted.

In Strategy & Systems, we learned about companies outsourcing jobs overseas to access cheaper labor. The problems is that companies like Comcast under staff their call centers, and customers are left to pay the price of extended waits and language barriers that make basic communication a real challenge. What the attached article argues is that companies that excel in customer service hire and reward the right kind of people and let go of the ones who aren’t cutting it. When we experience poor customer service at the cash register, online, or over the phone like I experienced with Comcast, it can be traced back to cost containing.

It comes down to companies needing to put increased emphasis on the quality of the customer service they hire and provide. Spend the extra money to hire more employees and they’ll be less overworked, make less mistakes, and treat every customer with respect. And please, for the sake of customer sanity, make sure your outsourced call center employees can speak English well enough to actually carry on a conversation. Make the extra effort to provide exceptional customer service, and it won’t go unnoticed. In fact, as the author of the article suggests, you’ll have a customer for life. But most importantly, acknowledge and reward good customer service so it becomes the rule, not the exception.

— Collin T.


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