Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.
The quality and level of customer service has decreased in recent years and this has been driven home for me in the last few weeks causing me to reflect on my own personal definition of customer service. A couple of weeks ago, I helped a customer at McAbee’s Custom Carpet as he was picking up a piece of carpet he ordered a few days prior. This nice gentleman felt the need to tell me how Customer Service in our country was a dying trait and he was so glad to find a small entrepreneurial company that once again cared about providing customer service. Really? I guess I’ve taken this for granted… great service is what my father founded this business on nearly 50 years ago.
Just today I was met with having to deal with a local vendor that had managed to get me to the point of being very upset and disgusted with their lack of customer service… or even response. The ability to provide a high level of service requires both obligation and responsibility as I see it and somewhere between the two lays a level of comfort. It’s not a matter of control or money but rather a need to see through the problem to the pain trigger and address it head-on.
So many service providers these days are working for a large Corporation, whether larger than our Upstate SC business area or even Worldwide businesses and they are losing their hold on great customer service. If you even get to speak with an actual person, they tend to hide behind someone else in their pyramid of business (be it supervisor or manager) and they lack the ability to accept responsibility for wrong doing or making a situation better. They tend to pass-the-buck as we have all experienced and this tactic must be an attempt to where the customer down to the point that they no longer even care to pursue their point of concern. It just serves to enrage me!
Where does this leave us – the consumer? What leverage do we have when a product or contract of service goes astray? Does anybody really care? I think we are just beginning to see a change in customer service in our society. Take the banking industry for example: Bank of America announces that they will begin charging their customers to use their own debit cards. They must have known this would cause BoA customers to go elsewhere. Was it worth risking? I say bravo to the customers that find another bank with better customer service. When did it become customary to raise your profit margin by charging additional fees to your already existing customers?
As an entrepreneur with Homeland Secure IT, I’ve followed my own father’s footsteps in starting a business with my husband. My Dad instilled two business traits in my mind: quality and service and the two go hand in hand. I remember hearing him say, “When business becomes so large that you no longer care about one or the other, quality or service, you might as well give up and lock the door.” I’ve watched both Homeland Secure IT and McAbee’s Custom Carpet go to extremes to make certain that a customer is happy, even if it means losing money in the end. There is so much more than the dollar amount to a business venture, there’s reputation of service that will keep customers coming back again and again. If employees of large companies feel no obligation to the satisfaction of their product or service, what do they care if they see a customer walk in the door again? The only leverage I can find at times is the threat of internet reviews for a business and we need to take this more seriously. I know John and I are constantly looking to reviews on Yelp, Yahoo, Google, and other forums to see just what other consumers have experienced before we decide to invest in a business. Perhaps the time has come where we do not have to feel like an unheard voice among so many, your opinion matters!
The businesses I’m invested in will continue to provide top-notch service to our customers. I am a firm believer in my father’s theory, why would we continue to grow a business if we are not giving our community reason to support us?
Pamela Hoyt – Homeland Secure IT / McAbee’s Custom Carpet
@PamelaHoyt – http://www.facebook.com/PamelaMHoyt