Whatever Happened to Customer Service?!

October 10, 2018
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At Ken May Insurance Services, I’m a stickler about offering extreme customer service or what we refer to it as customer excellence.

So, with that mindset, I always measure the customer service of companies in which I do business with. I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of employing lazy, uninspired people, if the problem is systemic or if it’s a reflection on today’s society as a whole but good customer service seems to be a thing of the past.

For example, let me rant about a recent experience I had with AT&T. My son dropped his mobile phone and the screen cracked. He took it over to the local AT&T store where he had purchased the phone and was given a price as to how much it would be to replace the screen. My son agreed and after a few days, he had a repaired phone once again. So far, so good. When he received a copy of his next bill from AT&T (he has been set up on automatic payments since 2013) in order to confirm that the repair price quoted matched the amount they withdrew from his account, he noticed that he was being charged for two iPads in addition to his cell phone.

My son then made another trip to the AT&T store to inquire about why he was being charged for two iPads he never purchased. The representative at the store promptly told him that he needed to call AT&T customer service. Strike one! They should have called AT&T customer service from the store and assisted my son in taking care of the problem.

My son then came to my office and asked for my help in solving this problem. Here is where it gets really bad. I called AT&T customer service and spoke with one of their “first level” employees. You know the one. He apologizes a lot but has no real power or expertise to fix the problem. After 45 minutes, it’s on to the “second level” guy. After an additional 30 minutes with him, he said that his supervisor gave him the authority to offer a full credit as long as my son brought the iPads back into the AT&T store. I told him that “the iPads never existed”! After another 20 minutes, the supervisor got on the phone and said that my son would be fully credited for the amount he had been overcharged. Hallelujah!

The next morning, my son calls me again. He received a text message from AT&T asking him to call them. They said that they will only give him a $60 credit (he had paid hundreds as he never bothered looking at the bills since he was set up on EFT – a life lesson learned).

I got on the phone again and talked to another “first level employee” followed by the “second level employee” followed by another supervisor who disconnected the phone call I had been on with them for one hour and fifteen minutes!

Now it’s a quest! I call again. I talk to a 3rd “first level lackey” followed by a 3rd “second level lackey” followed by a manager. As calmly as I could, I explained the problem to him as well as all I had gone through so far. I even went so far as to threaten to move all of our accounts away from AT&T and give them to Verizon. After just under 4 and a half hours of phone time over two days, he finally “gave in” and upped the credit to $100. He was the highest level AT&T rep and the 9th person I talked to and this is the best they can do? He said he had no authority to offer any more to my son even though they clearly made the mistake?

This isn’t an isolated incident. We had the same experience with our VoIP phone provider, Nextiva. I see it most times when my wife and I go to the movie theater. Horrible management and customer service that screams that they don’t care about us or our business. Companies that have gotten so big that paralysis has set in. Or, due to their size, it has become a numbers game and we just don’t count anymore.

I have two favors to ask of you; first, if you ever experience sub-par customer service from Ken May Insurance Services, please let me know! Second, if you have a choice between supporting big business vs. a local small business, please consider supporting your friends and neighbors who own and run local small businesses. They have to be good in order to survive.

-Ken May