To Serve or Not to Serve (The Customer)

He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own. ~Confucius

We are affected by Customer Service more than once every day. It makes a difference when you get your coffee in the morning, it matters when you fill your gas tank on your way home and when you buy your weekly groceries. The way in which you are served leaves a lasting impression on you. To that end it is my belief that Customer service should be the most important part of any business regardless of its particular niche. This week two companies left their impression on me and I’d like to outline those impressions below.

The Good News

Sometimes when you’re at the brink of never shopping somewhere again they can unexpectedly surprise you. That was the case with Circuit City this week. I live approximately 5 miles from the nearest Circuit City and rather than go there and find out they didn’t have what I wanted in stock i decided to give them a call. Literally 20 minutes after being on hold, being transferred 10 times, calling back twice and complaining, I finally got in touch with a manager who then instructed me she’d check the inventory and call me back. All this for a simple inventory check?

She called me back to let me know what I needed was in stock and that she’d have it held at the desk. Perfect. I headed over picked up what was held at the desk for me and went home. The problem arose when I tried to use it. The item I picked up turned out not to be the item I had asked for. Furious, I stormed back to Circuit City the next morning expecting a fight since I had already opened the package. When I arrived back at the store the same person was working the counter and instantly recognized me (it was also the Manager who I had talked to on the phone the previous day) and said:

You’re just not having any luck with this are you?

I said “no I’m not” in a gruff early-morning voice and she then proceeded to do the exchange without any more complaints. At the end of the transaction she explained that she had also credited my card for $8.50 (when there was no price difference) simply for the ‘inconvenience.’ Instantly she transformed my frustration into acceptance and even happiness. Not only did she fix my original problem but went above and beyond to simply make sure I wasn’t frustrated with their service.

The Bad News

My wife Rachel and I are planning on going to the Brian Regan show with some friends in our hometown in a few weeks. Since I sent out the notice to let people know about the show I offered to buy tickets for everyone so that we would be seated together. Originally I priced the tickets on TicketMaster at $30 a piece. This is what I told everyone and what I collected.

When I actually ordered the tickets The real bill included $2.50 (per ticket) for a facility charge, $7.50 for a convenience charge(per ticket) and a $3.60 service tax(total). That’s $10 per ticket more than advertised and an additional $3.60! After giving them a call I found out that the facility fee is actually charged by the venue so there’s nothing we can do about that however the tax and convenience charge is something Ticketmaster applies on top of the ticket price. Also I found out they only charge this convenience charge on the phone or on the Internet. If you go to the Ticketmaster counter the fee is waived.

How in the world does this make sense? Because it’s more convenient for me order my tickets from the comfort of my home you get to charge me more money? I say shenanigans! When I order from home especially over the Internet, I’m not distracting your customer service people from their real jobs, serving people who really need their help. It costs you no additional money to let me buy over the Internet. In fact I say it costs you less because you don’t need to have someone standing at a counter.

So what did I end up doing? Going to the actual venue and buying them direct. I had to leave work early just to get there while the box office was open. Such a complete inconvenience and utter customer service failure.

In Summary

The age old statement

The Customer is always right

Shouldn’t just be a saying on some old warn out poster behind your counter. Make it your policy, your goal, your JOB. After all, who pays your salary? What’s the best type of advertising?

That’s right Customers.

One thought on “To Serve or Not to Serve (The Customer)

  1. We had the same problem when we went to the concert the other day we got the tickets on willcall just incase it sold out and it was $82 for $70 worth of tickets…. wish I would just got them at the door. And sorry I didn’t get back to you about Regan I was just too busy to really return calls and such I ment to but oh well


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