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Regarding Customer Service Rants

(This is excerpted from a forum post of mine)

In political science there is a well know truism: "Angry people vote!"

This serves as a reminder that complacent people are unmotivated to do so.

Why is this relevant?

Try this: Think of a company of generally strong repute. Then Google "company name" and a disparaging descriptor like "Complaint", "Issue", "Problem", etc.

I'll bet that you will be unable to find a major retail manufacturer that doesn't have a thread in some discussion forum just like this.

It should also be noted that people who are angry often seek out like minded compatriots with whom to commiserate their experience which is why these threads grow so rapidly. And lets face it, it feels good to vent when we are getting a bum deal (I've done it many times myself).

Every company makes mistakes and in some cases egregious missteps in their handling of customers complaints. This is often exacerbated by internal cultural narrative of the department we as costumers have to deal with; the "complaint department" (customer service, consumer relations, technical assistance, etc. are all just marketing spin for what they really are). The people who work in these settings may begin there employment filled with optimism and a desire to be helpful (best case scenario) however, we can infer from studies of social workers' career longevity and satisfaction, that many will eventually become jaded and conditioned to believe that everyone is trying to get something for free or is in some way ill-intended. This has a direct correlation to job performance and departmental efficacy and eventually results in poor customer experiences.

My point is this; A bad RMA experience is not necessarily indicative of a companies poor moral compass or ill-intent. Rather it is more likely the result of an inherently flawed process.

As consumers it is our obligation to hold them accountable for these missteps by taking corrective action through official channels in order to maintain a high standard of service.

However it also behooves us to keep perspective and to recognize that these situations are in most cases the exception rather than the rule. Determining that an individual company performs comparatively poor requires research results of indicative statistical significance. Such results would be seen in professional journals and appear in industry publications as was the case when Dell customer service slipped in years past.

Of course I would be naive if was to suggest that all companies are of strong moral character and serve in the best interest of their costumers. By law, a corporation's first obligation is to its shareholders. This obligation creates the challenge of addressing their costumers needs and rights while remaining fiscally accountable to its shareholders. If the process is to easy, people will take advantage. If the process is to burdensome people will take legal action. They need to strike a balance, a result of which is that people will have experiences at both ends of the spectrum ranging from very good to very bad. This balance is hugely relative to a company's ability to thrive which is why they often spend $Millions on customer satisfaction research to determine ways to increase customer satisfaction at the lowest possible cost.

Voicing our dissatisfaction informs a company's ability to take corrective action and is an important part of the process.

A poor RMA process does not necessarily reflect a poor initial product or poor company policy. It is important to consider each situation individually and objectively if we desire an informed perspective.

While I support taking action, I would caution against mistaking the inferential leap that a poor customer experience reflects a poor product or poor company.

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