Customer services WTF



  • I just called my motor insurer about a small problem that should be fairly easy to sort out, but which involved them refunding me money they'd mistakenly(ish) charged. I dialled a freephone (toll-free) number, and after a single three option, easy to understand phone menu selection, spoke to a human within 30 seconds or so. They listened to me outline the basics of the problem, and politely and pleasantly stopped me after the first few words to put the call through to another department so I wouldn't have to tell the whole story twice. The next department answered immediately, and the person there was also pleasant and polite, as well as helpful. He listened to my problem, then found a very simple way to resolve what might have become a complicated problem by making a change elsewhere that rendered the whole thing moot. Around five minutes after the call started, he politely bid me goodbye having fixed everything.

    WTF?!

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?



  • @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
     

    Statistical bias.

    All the shit gets reported.

    All the good stuff does not.



  • @dhromed said:

    @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
     

    Statistical bias.

    All the shit gets reported.

    All the good stuff does not.

    No. I was genuinely astonished to get things sorted out so easily, quickly and painlessly. They're the only business I've ever encountered who actually get customer services right.



  • @intertravel said:

    No. I was genuinely astonished to get things sorted out so easily, quickly and painlessly. They're the only business I've ever encountered who actually get customer services right.
    Have you let them know that in as many words?



  • Believe it or not, I once had a good customer service experience with EA Games. I was blown away.

    It was a minor issue too. I couldn't use the bonus WWII rifles in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, because their website didn't recognize my serial number from Battlefield: 2142. Somehow my support email managed to, on the first try, be completely understood by the person reading it, and be forwarded to one of the undoubtedly few people with access to the tools to fix that specific problem, and he was actually polite and helpful and didn't sit on the ticket for 4 days.

    EDIT: And yes, what PJH said. Let the company know they're doing a good job. That gives them one less reason to cut support in the future, and is really a nice boost for the people who helped you-- who knows, it could even lead to a raise at their review.



  • I did thank the chap for his help, but perhaps I didn't make clear that this wasn't exceptional for this company - they've always been excellent with their customer service. I just don't understand why it's so rare for them to work with you instead of against you, and to actually do what they say they'll do, when they say they'll do it.

    I might just write them a testimonial, but mainly I think that the market will let them know that they're doing the right thing. Er, just realised I've been anonymising the story out of habit, but since I'm praising them I should say that it's Elephant. If anyone is looking for UK motor insurance, I would recommend them (although I've never had to make a claim).



  • @intertravel said:

    UK motor insurance

    Do you have to hire a different company to insure the rest of the car?



  • @dhromed said:

    @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
     

    Statistical bias.

    All the shit gets reported.

    All the good stuff does not.

    Yet another example of Murphy's Law...

     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @intertravel said:
    UK motor insurance
    Do you have to hire a different company to insure the rest of the car?

    I was going to ask if this was a joke or you being daft but then I got bored



  • @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    Because the good people tend to find jobs that pay better and interest them more.



  • @Douglasac said:

    @intertravel said:
    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    Because the good people tend to find jobs that pay better and interest them more.

    Same reason there are no good IT people in public schools.



  • @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    The vast majority of companies, regardless of what they may publicly claim, view customer service as a horrible expense that must be reduced to the absolute minimum.  As a result, the employees are paid very little and treated badly by a boss whose number one priority is to make you go away as quickly as possible.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    The vast majority of companies, regardless of what they may publicly claim, view customer service as a horrible expense that must be reduced to the absolute minimum.  As a result, the employees are paid very little and treated badly by a boss whose number one priority is to make you go away as quickly as possible.

    I usually bitch about Apple, but this is one thing they nail. Of course, with the prices they charge...



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Douglasac said:
    @intertravel said:
    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    Because the good people tend to find jobs that pay better and interest them more.

    Same reason there are no good IT people in public schools.

    The IT people at my Government high school were pretty good, doubly so when you took into account it was in a small town. It probably helped that the IT department usually got the funding it needed.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @intertravel said:

    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    The vast majority of companies, regardless of what they may publicly claim, view customer service as a horrible expense that must be reduced to the absolute minimum.  As a result, the employees are paid very little and treated badly by a boss whose number one priority is to make you go away as quickly as possible.

    Yes, exactly. And since it's blatantly obvious to everyone here that it's a false economy, why is that?

    @Douglasac said:

    @intertravel said:
    Serious point: why is encountering a genuinely good customer-services department so incredibly rare?
    Because the good people tend to find jobs that pay better and interest them more.

    Not at all. High level customer services can be both interesting and extremely lucrative. I find proper customer service (management, anyway) to be a very interesting job, but then I find human behaviour interesting. One of the things that annoyed me most when I was doing a lot more tech support was that first-line support was seen as a tech role rather than a CS one - led to all kinds of WTFs because although there was plenty of (or at least, some) technical training, there was no training at all in how to actually handle customers politely and effectively.



  • @intertravel said:

    Not at all. High level customer services can be both interesting and extremely lucrative. I find proper customer service (management, anyway) to be a very interesting job, but then I find human behaviour interesting. One of the things that annoyed me most when I was doing a lot more tech support was that first-line support was seen as a tech role rather than a CS one - led to all kinds of WTFs because although there was plenty of (or at least, some) technical training, there was no training at all in how to actually handle customers politely and effectively.

    I love QA. I could easily spend my career doing nothing but QA. The year I spent QAing Xbox and PC games was about the most enjoyable job experience of my life.

    But you know what? I can't make a living at it. So I don't do QA.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @intertravel said:
    Not at all. High level customer services can be both interesting and extremely lucrative. I find proper customer service (management, anyway) to be a very interesting job, but then I find human behaviour interesting. One of the things that annoyed me most when I was doing a lot more tech support was that first-line support was seen as a tech role rather than a CS one - led to all kinds of WTFs because although there was plenty of (or at least, some) technical training, there was no training at all in how to actually handle customers politely and effectively.

    I love QA. I could easily spend my career doing nothing but QA. The year I spent QAing Xbox and PC games was about the most enjoyable job experience of my life.

    But you know what? I can't make a living at it. So I don't do QA.

    Is that meant to be somehow relevant? I'm not seeing the link.


  • @intertravel said:

    Is that meant to be somehow relevant? I'm not seeing the link.

    Well, what I was getting at, or trying to, is that tech support is I imagine one of those fields where, even if you love it and you do a great job, you can't (necessarily) make a living at it. I haven't actually worked in tech support, so maybe I'm completely off-base, and if so I apologize.

    With QA, even if you love doing it, and even if you're great at it, and even if you find the rare company that actually pays decently for it, the only possible career advancement in the vast majority of companies is "stop doing QA and do something else." Peter Principle in action. It bugs the shit out of me.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Well, what I was getting at, or trying to, is that tech support is I imagine one of those fields where, even if you love it and you do a great job, you can't (necessarily) make a living at it. I haven't actually worked in tech support, so maybe I'm completely off-base, and if so I apologize.
    You imagine wrong - it's paid broadly in line with other IT fields, which means that you can get anywhere from minimum wage right up to name-your-price territory depending on experience, qualifications, business area, and so-on. But anyway, I was trying to say that the part I find most interesting is the customer services aspects, not (usually) the technical problem solving.

    @blakeyrat said:

    With QA, even if you love doing it, and even if you're great at it, and even if you find the rare company that actually pays decently for it, the only possible career advancement in the vast majority of companies is "stop doing QA and do something else." Peter Principle in action. It bugs the shit out of me.
    That's not the Peter Principle, but yeah, that's similar to my complaint. In tech support, they tend to see the only possible career progression from first-line as being to second line, third line, and so-on, missing the obvious fact that it's a CS, not tech role.



  • @intertravel said:

    That's not the Peter Principle,

    ...? Then what is?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @intertravel said:
    That's not the Peter Principle,

    ...? Then what is?

    "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently and so don't get promoted further.

    What you're talking about is similar, but not the same. I don't know if there's a snappy term for it.



  • @intertravel said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @intertravel said:
    That's not the Peter Principle,

    ...? Then what is?

    "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently and so don't get promoted further.

    What you're talking about is similar, but not the same. I don't know if there's a snappy term for it.

    How is that not the same thing?

    You work QA; you're good at QA; the only way to get a promotion is to do something that's not QA; you've "risen to your level of incompetence."

    Well, whatever, I don't want to debate it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @intertravel said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @intertravel said:
    That's not the Peter Principle,

    ...? Then what is?

    "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently and so don't get promoted further.

    What you're talking about is similar, but not the same. I don't know if there's a snappy term for it.

    How is that not the same thing?

    You work QA; you're good at QA; the only way to get a promotion is to do something that's not QA; you've "risen to your level of incompetence."

    Well, whatever, I don't want to debate it.

    Well, it's not really a debate, just me explaining it to you (badly). If QA is generally bad for the reason you gave, then that's the Peter Principle in action. The fact that QA is seen as an entry-level job, rather than a specialism of its own (if true) is not the Peter Principle, although it's fucking annoying (if they're wrong), and just like the tech-support example I gave.



  • @blakeyrat said:


    You work QA; you're good at QA; the only way to get a promotion is to do something that's not QA; you've "risen to your level of incompetence."

    The way you've formulated it, it isn't necessarily the Peter Principle. When you're promoted, you might still be good at whatever you're now doing that isn't QA.

    The Peter Principle is just saying that as people do well, they get promoted. Eventually, they get to a job that they don't do well. Rather than going back to whatever they do well, they stay there where they suck. Or at least aren't good enough to get promoted any more.

    You're really just saying that a QA job is a dead end, career-wise, no matter how good you are at it, assuming that all you want to do is QA related stuff.

    To put the Peter Principle into a QA paradigm, suppose there were several level of QA job descriptions:

    1. Run software tests.
    2. Write / design software tests.
    3. Supervise QA team for a project.
    4. Manage QA department.

    Now, suppose you do a great job at running and writing software tests. Eventually, because you do a good job, you end up supervising a project team. But you're a real PHB, and so you'll never do well enough to be considered to manage the whole department. You've risen to the level of your incompetence.



  • Don't worry blakey, I understood what you were saying.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.