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Is Customer Service Dead?

Do you have a customer service story? I may want to include it in my next book!

The idea of writing a book called Is Customer Service Dead, came to me a few years back when I was completing a chapter in my first book entitled, ‘Bend Over & Apologize.’ In that chapter, amongst other things, I recounted a bad experience with a pair of Hush Puppy dress shoes that ended with me couriering my dirty footwear directly to the CEO of Hush Puppies, Inc. My customer service is dead story ended with me being a semi-satisfied Hush Puppy owner, but I know my story literally pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of personal stories, both good & bad just screaming to be collected into a book.

Let’s face it, we have all personally experienced, or at the very least, heard way too many gut wrenching customer service horror stories that usually end up fading away, and over time are forgotten. Even worse, there are great customer service stories that never get told, and that is a true shame!

Not anymore…

There are several ways I will be collecting people’s stories for Is Customer Service Dead:

(A)   People can comment on this blog post. If you or someone you know has a story to tell just click the comment button below and spill your guts. Make sure your email is valid, as if your story is selected for inclusion in the book, I will need to get in touch with you.

(B)   Soon people will be able to  comment on www.IsCustomerServiceDead.net (June 2009)

(C)  You or anyone can email your story to leeraito@gmail.com

There has to be some pretty crazy stories out there, and we are all dying to hear them. Even if you just want to answer the question, “Is Customer Service Dead?” I look forward to your response!

Comments

Lee Raito

My Hush Puppy Customer Service Story

I have an interesting story about shoes that might not be indicative of dressing for success but certainly is about customer service and pride of product. For the longest time I have been in love with Hush Puppy dress shoes. I wear them almost day and night and despite loving the product so much almost dropped buying the product all together because of a bad experience. When I bought my last pair of Hush Puppies about a year before my problem occurred, I told everyone. It was their most expensive shoe and I was
ecstatic with their new technology, which put a cushion of air under your heel. I talked about them on the plane, at seminars, to family and friends…to absolutely everyone. They looked good and felt even better. I gave Hush Puppies so much free advertising some might have accused me of being on their payroll, I assure you I wasn’t and am not currently.

A little over a year after buying the shoe, I one day realized…hey, my feet aren’t so comfy anymore. I took off my shoe and took a look inside. In both shoes, the air cushion had collapsed and a crater had developed under each heel. I’m hard on my shoes but not that hard, and I’m not even a heavy guy. So, I was disappointed but figured it wouldn’t be a problem, just take them back and get a new pair…right?

Not that easy after all.

The store indicated that they only can return Hush Puppy product with in one year of purchase and you must produce a receipt, which was OK as I still had it. Strike one. I figured OK, if I contact Hush Puppies directly, they would surely recognize a manufacturing default and pony up a new pair of Puppies. Nope…after contacting Customer Service via email their response was simply to shrug me off stating that they only provide a one-year warranty on all their products. In other words, we don’t care that their may be a manufacturing default and you are out of luck. I guess some people may have stopped trying at this point, but I wanted my Puppies repaired or replaced, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

In the mean time, I had purchased a new pair of stylish, yet comfortable jet black, slide on Rockports. They were surprisingly comfortable, but not my dear Hush Puppies. With the shoebox that my new Rockports came in, I boxed up my old Hush Puppies and shipped them to the office of the CEO of Hush Puppies Canada, with a letter letting them know how I felt.

One of two things is going though your mind. He’s crazy … well, just a little, or brilliant. I really don’t think either are holey appropriate. The fact is Hush Puppies had a choice, they can either stand behind their product or they can leave their customer hanging, in a highly competitive market.

What did they do?

About three weeks after sending my shoes off, at the whopping cost of about eight bucks, my wife received a call from the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Hush Puppies. I happened to be on a business trip at the time but Tanya indicated that she knew why they were calling. The lady politely asked Tanya if she thought Lee would mind waiting about a month, until their new line of shoes came out, and they would ship me a brand new pair. Whoo…hooo…success! Tanya said that would be fine and that she would pass on the message to me. Tanya called me pretty much immediately after getting off the phone, as to date we have had quite a few laughs over the Hush Puppy incident.

I was elated that in the end I succeeded at achieving my goal, but was still upset that it took such great lengths to get satisfaction. This was not a case of a miser seeking a freebie, as I always believe in paying fair prices for quality; their product obviously had an “alleged” manufacturing default. Maybe it was limited to all the shoes produced on New Years Eve, who knows and who really cares.

The morale of the story is stand behind your product or service and your loyal customers will take care of you. If you don’t, they will abandon you faster than you did them.

Cheers,
Lee Raito

David Tomen

Lee: A timely book idea. I had a very pleasant customer service experience just a couple of days ago. I invested a lot of effort trying to figure out how to do an email campaign using eight years of accumulated contacts in my Outlook database. I finally gave up and selected one of the online email services for my campaign. I chose Vertical Response because of cost and functionality. Two short online chats with a customer service rep in that company helped me tweak my first email and upload my Outlook contacts.

The very next morning I received a call on my cellphone from their customer service department asking if all my issues had been settled to my satisfaction and was there anything else they could do! Of course the call was motivated by making sure I followed through and used and paid for their service. But the call was a total and very pleasant surprise. Now that is great customer service.

Keep up the good work and the blogging Lee.

Best regards,
David

Kevin Lam

I’d have to say good customer services these days are rare to come by but very valuable when you do get it. So I wouldn’t say customer service is dead, it’s just antique.

With the changes in culture, society and even technology, what our customer service representatives should be doing is not only helping our customers with their wants and needs, but increasing our revenue.

That includes directing them to our websites and getting the customer to buy more from there or at least branding ourselves with them (especially if we’re a small business).

If you don’t have a website, get one. It’s one of the best customer service you can provide because your website can answer many questions 24/7 without hiring someone to accept calls. With the right marketing, it can increase your business by at least 150%.

Also, if you or someone you know is using the Yellow/White pages, you might want to read this: http://texasseo.com/897/are-yellow-pages-ineffective-now/

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