“C” for Customer Service

CFirst, a little history about me. My father owned businesses in the Midwest that total 67 stores today. I worked for them since I was 13. Therefore, I KNOW how you’re supposed to treat a customer: no matter how upset they are, no matter the size or duration of their tantrum, no matter how pissed you might be, my parents taught me one lesson above all – the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

So, if you have ever been the victim of poor customer service, you know firsthand how frustrating that can be. Now, we’ve all seen the 17-yr. old at the convenience store who paints her nails whilst talking on the phone, to her boyfriend no less, who rings up your items without any eye contact, total amount due or spoken words whatsoever. That’s bothersome, even annoying at times.

I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about hair-tearing, jaw-clenching, weapons-grade epic fails.

The kind that remind you of trying to claim your lost luggage at an airport while the person behind the counter looks you straight in the eyes and asks, “Has your plane landed yet?”

For instance:

While living in a suburb of Denver, I was the recipient of several such incidents, the most egregious of which concerned a regional phone/internet provider.

Situation: At 11:05 pm, my home phone goes out. It is provided by and connected through the internet company and that service is still up and running just fine. At the time, I did not have a cell phone. So, I go to online chat, a wonderful new service I thought would be the answer to my current problem. I sign on and I wait. And wait. Annnnd wait… finally, a connection.

Customer Service Person (CSP): Hello, welcome to (XYZ) Internet Services. My name is (let’s call her Bambi, shall we?)

Me: Good evening. My phone service has gone out. No dial tone, no connection whatsoever. What can I do?

Bambi: Let me take a look at what’s happening…

Me: (waiting for 5 minutes while she checks all the connections)

Bambi: Looks as though everything should be working. Did you unplug and re-plug all of the cords?

Me: Yes, I did that.

Bambi: Hmmm, did you reset your modem?

Me: Yep, I tried that too.

Bambi: Well, that’s all I can think of on this end. Here’s a phone number where you can get ahold of customer service, as what we can do here is really quite limited. 1-800-DON’T-KNOW. Or you can try, 1-888-DON’T-CARE.

Me: But, my PHONE is out. How can I call them?

Bambi: Don’t you have a cell phone?

Me: No.

Bambi: Can you go to a neighbor’s?

Me: It’s after midnight now, so, probably not.

Bambi: Can’t you just wake someone up? [Not kidding]

Me: Um, not really, I’d like them to talk to me from now on.

Bambi: Can you get to a payphone?

Me: Don’t have a car and the only one in the neighborhood is broken. I’ve tried to use it before. [Note: Not too many payphones available that haven’t been vandalized within an inch of their lives in Denver.]

Bambi: I’m sorry, but that’s all I can offer.

Me: Wait a minute, then what is THIS chat service for?

Bambi: For when the internet is having trouble.

Me: So let me get this straight, if I’m having trouble with my internet, I can chat with you online, but if my phone goes out I can call?

Bambi: That’s right. Sorry I couldn’t help you. You’ll just have to borrow someone’s phone tomorrow. Bye.

[Leaves chat]


Honestly folks, I’ve been on both sides of that scenario. I used to do incoming customer service for the now-defunct MCI, all right? But I have never, NEVER encountered someone as dense and unhelpful as the folks being hired nowadays. So please, companies, when you hire people, don’t just cut them loose after a half-day of watching others perform this task. TRAIN them for the love of God.

Back to you…