News Flash: Customer Service Is Leaving America

When was the last time you contacted a company’s call center and had to ask for their names several times because you could not understand them? Or, how often have you been transferred from one department to another? How about the time you were placed on hold so long you had time to cook dinner, or asked to speak to a supervisor who always seems to be in meetings? I’ll bet your answer is, “Way too often”.

Ladies and gentlemen, customer service is leaving America at an alarming rate, and with the lingering economic tsunami, thousands more will be shipped overseas. I understand shipping services overseas has a tremendous effect on the bottom line, but the bottom line is where it should be, at the bottom where it belongs. When I started this profession 20 years ago, customer service departments received the lion’s share of the budget to train its representatives. However now, when companies downsize, the first department to be led to the budget chopping block is customer service.

More often lately, I have been a recipient of bad customer service. Don’t get me wrong, I also experience exceptional service, but human nature as it is, the bad experiences stand out. Two stand out for me. Recently, I contacted a company’s call center to resolve what I thought would be a minor issue. I spoke to associates, supervisors and managers twenty times in nine weeks. In a fit of desperation, I found the name of the CEO of this particular company. One week and one letter later, my issue was resolved. Although my issue was finally resolved, I fired that company. To me first impressions are not made on the second attempt.

My second encounter was face-to-face. Last week I walked up to a Customer Service desk looking for help. There were three employees chatting behind the counter. It took several seconds before one of them acknowledged me. The employee made it obvious that I was intruding on their conversation, and asked, “Do you need something sir?” Would I be here if I didn’t? Once again I found the name of the CEO. Once again, one week later and one letter later, I received a gift card to that store with a form letter of apology. I gave the gift card to a friend and oh yes, I fired that company too.

So next time you call or visit a company and feel like you are being an intrusion on employees for demanding customer service, you have two options. You can accept it, quack like a duck and go unnoticed, or let them know you are going to take your business elsewhere, and soar with the eagles and be noticed. Stand up for my passion and profession, customer service. If you receive great service let them know. If you are on the other end of the spectrum, say to that company, “You’re fired.”

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