I don’t give out my loyalty to a brand or company easily. In fact, I have pretty high standards when it comes to customer service, whether that be from a restaurant, a telephone company, a cable company or a department store. Some, including my husband, think my expectations can be somewhat unrealistic. I disagree entirely. Of course, my husband won’t even return a burger if it’s not what he ordered.
Here’s my reasoning: we all work hard for our half of the salary that we’re allowed to take home. So when you purchase any product or service and you don’t get what you’re entitled to, I think it’s not only acceptable, but necessary to do something about it.
I’m the first to admit I’m a customer service whore. I’ll jump on the first company that will offer me a better deal. See? No loyalty. The reasoning is simple: I’m tired of dealing with the same big companies over and over again, who think we’ll just keep bending over and taking the crap they dish out. Anyone else tired of hearing “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do”?
Not to name names, but you know who you are, Bell / Videotron / Rogers et al.
Bell called me a while back, asking to get my business back. My venomous hatred for Bell made me want to vomit into the phone, but I managed to nicely ask the man what he had to offer. He said they had great new deals on long distance plans. First, the plan’s price was the same one I currently pay with Primus. Second, they couldn’t match Primus’s offering. When I explained this, he actually tried to convince me I didn’t need more than he was offering. So much for price and product – let’s try service. I asked if they had expanded their customer service hours, which in the past were barely more than regular business hours. He confirmed their hours hadn’t changed. So I recapped: you’re offering me less for the same price, and your service hasn’t changed. I’ll stick to Primus. This way, I have the added bonus of not having to deal with Bell.
I’ve got loads of examples, ranging from multiple invoice screw-ups and duplicate charges, all the way to flat-out lying about showing up for service calls. For the record, that was Bell too. And when I called and received the expected “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do”, I kindly thanked her for convincing me to switch to Star Choice. Like I said, customer service whore.
In the midst of these giant corporations who make profits at our expense, I found a rare pearl.
Chris and I have been saving up air miles for the past few years, with a very specific goal in mind: the Jura “Ena 5” espresso maker. Behold the beauty of the Ena 5. A $1400 machine brought to you free of charge by the magic of Air Miles. For nearly two years, we’ve been checking the Air Miles web site, making sure it’s still available, and that the number of points required hadn’t changed.
Until last week. We were 60 points away from the 12,000 points required, and could almost taste the cappuccino, when suddenly it was nowhere to be found. They had heartlessly removed it from the list of products they carry, just when it was almost within reach.
Despite a foreboding sense of doom, we dialed the customer service number. We explained our situation to the rep, who transferred us to a supervisor, to whom we had to tell the story again. I was less than optimistic. Jan the supervisor A.K.A. SuperJan, was sympathetic about how long we’d been waiting for the item. According to his initial checks, there were a couple of machines left in their warehouse, but he didn’t know if they had already been shipped away. For two days, SuperJan made calls to the warehouse trying to locate one, re-entered the item on the web site and gave us the missing 60 air miles in good faith, to facilitate the transaction.
SuperJan could’ve chosen to be just plain Jan, claiming “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.” At the end of the day, he’d still go home and earn his pay. But instead he went out of his way to resolve a problem for a customer, and all he got out of it was a heartfelt thank you. That, my fellow consumers, is excellence in customer service – the only thing that can in fact breed loyalty.
We’ll keep you posted on whether he was successful in locating our uber-awesome, this-is-what-espresso-should-be-like espresso maker.