Social Question

optimisticpessimist's avatar

How important is customer service to you?

Asked by optimisticpessimist (3884 points ) April 26th, 2011

I saw several threads similar to this, but I think this is slightly different.

After several months of continuing poor customer service and billing, I have switched service providers for internet and cable. I made changes to my account in Feb and since then I have had to call back four times due to non-completion of the original order and excessive amounts being billed. The customer service was lackluster at best and incompetent (the original order not being completed correctly 3 times) at worst. I finally had enough and canceled the service completely. I have a feeling they assumed I would not cancel the service as it is a hassle to do so.

I was somewhat surprised the company did not do anything to keep me as a customer as I have always paid the bill. However, another part of me figured they are big enough, they really do not care about keeping one customer.

Do or would you change any service due to poor customer service? Or does the hassle of changing services keep you tied to a company?

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16 Answers

nebule's avatar

Customer Service is paramount for me…I immediately think about dining out for example.. everything else can be top quality; the food, the atmosphere, the wine, the company, the facilities… but if the service is poor, it taints the whole experience. I think we inherently want to have meaningful and pleasant connections with people and to experience mutual respect. So if the customer service is rotten we should go elsewhere and look for better companies.

I think this is really important to develop respectable companies in a consumerist society…there are enough people out there trying to make a buck without having to deal with people who don’t care about you the customer. We should cultivate those companies that are willing to put the effort in…and maybe that will make the world just that bit more lovely.

Pandora's avatar

I dropped my telephone service all together because of poor customer service. As it was the price kept going up for something I hardly used and then whenever I had problems with service it seemed I would just keep getting passed along or end up speaking with someone who I couldn’t understand or who really couldn’t help because they really had no idea or didn’t care to really help.
I never missed a payment either. Now I have been with my cell company for 10 years and I haven’t changed to any other carrier because they have excellent customer service. But for home phone service, I just couldn’t see to continue paying money month after month and having to deal with poor customer service. Now I have magic jack. Its not the best but for about 30 or so dollars a year, I can deal with the not so great connection. All I really ever needed a home number for was for businesses needing a home number. I mostly use my cell for family and friends and use the home for local numbers and businesses.
I have no problem changing services when it is possible when and if I get crappy service. I’ve even walked out of a resturant when I felt there was no need for the waitress to take all day getting to us to take our order.
I’ve even left clothes behind in a store if I felt the sales person was rude.
Hell one time I went to buy a car. The sales guy acted like he was wasting his time with me. Kept showing me second hand cars when I wanted a newer vehicle.
He assumed I couldn’t afford it I guess because I told him what I was looking to spend and not a dime more. I didn’t want to pay for a car loaded with bells and whistles I didn’t want. So he tried to sell me old cars with bells and whistles that cost what I wanted.
Well I went to the dealer down the road and purchased a car for the price I wanted and it had exactly what I wanted and drove back to his dealership and told him that I wouldn’t be coming back.
He had cars in his lot that fit what I was looking for but I guess he thought I was too stupid and he could convince me there was nothing out there that fit what I wanted. I had already done my homework before setting out to shop but I wanted to see what kind of service I would get with my vehicle. Obviously if he was an example of the people they hired than the service would be horrible in the future. Sure enough the service I got from my dealer was excellent and the car has lasted me for 11 years.
Customer service is everything in the business world. You can’t just rely on the product to sell itself when there are a lot of products equal to what you are selling. Your also paying for the customer sevice. If it sucks than I move on.
Unfortunely cable companies have a monopoly in some areas and you either stuck with them or you get nothing. :( Wish it was mandatory to be able to have more than one cable company available.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Pandora I have done similar when purchasing a car. At the first dealership, the salesman was told to talk to me because it was to be my car. My husband took the kids to another area of the lot to entertain them. The salesman kept trying to find my husband instead of talking to me. We did not buy there. At the next place we went, the salesman was told I did not want a white car (available choice was white or mocha) and the salesman looked at my husband and said, “For this price, I would tell my wife to learn to like white.” My husband laughed not because it was funny but because he knew the guy had just ensured I would buy no car from that dealership.

Cruiser's avatar

Customer service is everything to me both at work for my customers and where I spend my money. I run a small business and providing good consistent knowledgeable service for my customers is our hallmark for success. I choose my vendors over their ability to provide the same.

@optimisticpessimist You have described my new cable, phone and internet provider to a “T” and my guess ir would have to be the same company. Absolutely dumbfounded over just how sloppy poor and ineffectual one company can be across the board. I don’t call customer service anymore I go straight to the cancellation desk where it is amazing how quickly things get done when you say “come and get all your gear NOW!!”

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@nebule Fortunately, there are 2 or 3 in the area instead of just the one, but it is still very limited. Talk about monopolies!

@Cruiser When I told them I wanted to cancel, they just said okay. However, I will be calling to make sure they put the order to cancel through because I have a feeling it was not done and I will continue to be billed. When my brother-in-law switched to them, they sent his account to collections because they were billing him incorrectly so he never received a bill.

blueiiznh's avatar

Customer Service is critical. Product performance is primary and service after the sale is second.
I would pay more for an equal product if the service is better. In my line of work I am presented with this ever single day from a vendor or peer worker standpoint.
Setting expectations and following through as promised is critical to keeping me as a customer or keeping a vendor that my company dollar pays for.

meiosis's avatar

Good customer service should be efficient but discrete. I absolutely hate being asked “How are you today?” at the beginning of a call – If I’m having a rubbish day I’m hardly likely to tell them that, so it’s starts the entire conversation off with them reminding me of the stresses I’d temporarily forgotten, and me making an awkward lie: “Uh, fine, thanks”.

blueiiznh's avatar

@meiosis I agree on the “How are you today” question. It does set me off because it is most obvious.
I usually tell them as it is, “crappy because your service is not working!”

marinelife's avatar

This hits a sore spot with me right now. I just got off the phone for the fifth or sixth time with Verizon customer service. They totally screwed up my move. I now have to wait until tomorrow for my Internet connection (thank goodness for wireless laptops and unsecured connections. They reduced me to tears of frustration.

This after two horrible phone calls with Cox Cable that were so bad, I went with a different provider.

It is vitally important even though they downplay it. It makes me decide whether to use someone’s service or not, and what I say about them as a company to friends, whether I recommend the company or not. Also, once lost you will never get my business again.

Seelix's avatar

Service is definitely important. I haven’t yet had to switch providers or anything like that, but there are certain cashiers at the grocery store near my place whose lines I won’t go to because their service is so bad.

There’s one young lady (20ish or so) who always opens the conversation with “Wanna bag?” (In Toronto all plastic bags are $0.05 each), rarely tells you the total, and never says “thank you”, “you’re welcome” or “goodbye”.

I’m not asking for much, I don’t think. How difficult is it? “Hi there, do you need a bag today? That’ll be $23.47. Thank you, here’s your change. Have a good day!” I’ve worked retail long enough that I know it’s not impossible to be polite, even if you’re having a bad day. I’ve encountered this cashier at least 5 times in the 10 months I’ve been visiting the store, though, and she’s never been polite. So I’ll wait in a longer line to avoid her.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t need good customer service but I will not tolerate bad customer service. Neutral is fine.

wundayatta's avatar

If they treat me less than what I expect, I’m gone. I once got a late fee on a credit card due to paying a few days late, and then double paying the same bill. I asked them to remove the late fee. We had been with them for more than a decade and except for this time, we always paid on time. Their vendor fees on our purchases was as much as 500 dollars a year. But they refused to give me back my late fee, so I gave up the credit card altogether. No one cared, I guess, because I never heard back from them about what happened.

Pandora's avatar

@marinelife Yeah, I had the same carrier. Thats who I said good-bye to.
@omni, It was pretty much the same. Guy kept speaking to my husband and trying to sell him these old 2nd hand cars as if my opinion on the car we were going to buy didn’t matter. Especially since it was to be my car and not my husbands and my husband told him it has to be something I wanted.

Kardamom's avatar

@Seelix I think I know that cashier! She’s the same one who will say, “No Problem” when you ask her for something that she should have done automatically.

Some bad customer service we are forced to put up with because in some cases (like with the cable company where I live) there is only one option. That is what is really offensive is that there is no competition at all for certain services (depending upon where you live) so those companies have no compelling reason to offer you good service.

When I do get great service (which is rare) I’ve been known to write a letter or speak directly to that person’s manager to give kudos and thanks.

Then there’s the restaurant situation. I want good, non-intrusive, polite service. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t. But if the food is really, really good, I’ll likely return, even if the service was bad. But in that case, I also might write or speak with a manager about that situation.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It’s a mixed bag with me. Good customer service is really important but so is having minimal hassle that comes along with disputes, change, re sign, blah-blah. I stayed years too long with a celly phone provider because I didn’t want to research new phones, new carriers. I continue to order an occasional Italian entree from a restaurant with incompetent phone answerers terrible delivery people because the food tastes so good and is a value for my thin dollars.

When I have given something up because of poor customer service, it’s only after I’ve given them a chance to make good and then still been disappointed. My recent visit to a very reasonable dry cleaner comes to mind. The clerk gave me attitude because I brought in 29 items and he had to write upon 3 pieces of paper and fill 3 bags just for one me. I called the owner and asked why I should pay $60. up front and be made to feel I was putting the kid out? I’ve been given some discounts for future visits and a promise the kids will take the clothes to my car if there is more than one bag’s worth. We’ll see how it goes but I’m looking for a backup dry cleaner just in case.

augustlan's avatar

Very. I go out of my way to patronize friendly businesses. For instance, I take my van to another state to get my oil changed. (This isn’t as drastic as it sounds. I’m in this other state at least once a week, and plan accordingly.) Even though there’s a lube place just down the block from where I live, the other place has me as a customer for life. Not only are they generally friendly, they helped me out big time when my car broke down once, at no charge.

Lots of businesses make mistakes (they’re run by humans, after all). The true measure is how they handle them. Handle it poorly, and I’m gone. Handle it well, and I’m a loyal customer.

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