Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Observation of Customer Service

I work in a position that requires me to deal with the public in various capacities. When you get right down to it, I am willing to bet the majority of jobs on the planet deal with customer service. To be clear, I mean customer service beyond one’s own company. I don’t consider the IT guy fixing my computer in my office customer service. I’m talking about service from a company to the public.

My question is, what has happened to customer service? Where has it gone? Where is it now?

It seems that everywhere I go I have been subjected to a rapidly declining level of customer service. Just this week my wife got lousy service at a Taco Bell. Yes, I know we’re talking about Taco Bell and not Carabba’s. But waiting in a drive thru line as the only car for 20 minutes is a bit excessive, particularly when the average item on the menu takes about 25 seconds to make.

Like a lot of people, I have a 30-minute lunch break. Not a big deal, but if I’m going off site for lunch, I need to hustle in and hustle out. I pull into Wendy’s and through a crackling speaker order 2 5-piece nuggets, a large fry, and a Coke. Nothing hard about that. I pull around, pay the man, take my bag and leave. Like most folks, I venture into the bag and grab a few fries while driving. It’s at this time that I find I have someone else’s order. Damnit. It wasn’t even close. A side salad and a drink was all I got. At least they got the Coke right. So I turn around and go back to remedy the situation.

By this time, the drive thru line has exploded. So I run inside, and still end up stuck in a line. At this point, allow me to clarify something; making a mistake in an order in the middle of lunch madness happens. And it’s not the end of the world. But after taking the time to turn around to fix the problem this doesn’t play well with me…

I very honestly and politely point out that they just gave me the wrong order, and the manager looks at me as though I just insulted his mother. I tell him again that I got the wrong order, and still nothing. He says “well do you have a receipt?” I say “Sure. It’s the receipt for the wrong food in the bag, but yeah… I’ve got one.” The more this exchange continues, the more irritated I am getting, not to mention the closer I am cutting it getting back to work. Finally I say “do I look like someone who would be satisfied with a tiny salad for lunch?” (for those who don’t know me personally, I’m about 6’2” and 225)

I finally get my food, the correct food that is, and I leave. Each bite smacked of content and frustration. I don’t fault the mistake, I really don’t. I’d preferred it wasn’t made, but people make them. But what’s the point of making an issue with a guest when they return the food that was mistakenly given and politely ask for the right order? Has decent customer service gone the way of decent gas prices?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Creative Marketing

I’ve worked in sales almost exclusively since I graduated from college. The more time I spend in a sales-related field, the more I start to notice marketing catch phrases, trends, and speech. These terms are probably the most prevalent when dealing with used cars. A ’94 Civic is a “used car” while a ’98 Infinity is probably a “previously owned vehicle”.

Stuff like that cracks me up. But what really caught my attention was when I was online this afternoon looking up wedding registries. We have a few friends getting married this summer, and I was looking up their registries online. On Macy’s home page, they have all this Father’s Day stuff and watches were one of the featured items. So my eyes wandered and I had a look at what they were offering, and thus was the Everest of marketing catch phrases.

Anything under roughly $250-300 was a “watch”. The mid-upper $300 range were “chronographs”, and that will run you in some cases up to $1,000. But no one would ever condescend to call a Rolex , Omega , Bulgari, or Piaget a watch or a chronograph. Oh no. These are “timepieces”.

Creative marketing at it’s finest.