Tag Archives: poor customer service

Don’t be a douche. 5 customer service tips for dummies.

Marshall Field says, "Don't be a douche bag."

Marshall Field says, “Don’t be a douche bag.”

If you’ve been following the interwebs, then you’ve likely come across the story of the Comcast rep who fought the customer trying to cancel their service.

If you’re not up on the incident, a mini-recap is in order.

Dude wants to cancel his service. Wife calls Comcast and is abused by the rep for about 10 minutes. Frustrated, she hands the phone to dude, who is similarly abused for another 10 minutes. Inspired, dude decides to start recording and captures the last eight minutes of the rep’s totally ridiculous behavior.

You can listen to the call here.

As someone who suffered under the oppressive yoke of Comcast before Fios gave us free, I was not surprised by the shitty customer service experience.

And as someone who has experienced shitty customer service from brands like Louis Vuitton (I know how Oprah feels), I realize that customer service is no longer a self-explanatory term.

Every day, we are all faced by people in customer service roles that could give a fuck that their job is to be helpful, and instead have cultivated the art of showing you their full asses.

How many time have you been condescended to? Cut off? Passed inaccurate information? Yelled at?

Far too often, I’m sure.

So today, I’m sharing my top five tips for not being a customer service douche.

1. Remember that the customer is always right.

When I was growing up, I heard this maxim over and over: “the customer is always right.”

Businesses knew that customers kept them in business, and they knew that they had to keep their customers happy. How, pray tell, did they do that? By teaching their public-facing reps that their job was to keep the customer happy. Happy customers meant more sales. More sales meant higher revenues. Higher revenues meant profits. Profits allowed the business to thrives. Ergo, happy customers equalled a thriving business.

If businesses treated their customers like kings and queens, they could never go wrong.

2. STFU.

I used to work with a dude who would routinely black out on customers. He was so abrasive, so condescending, so insulting and dismissive, that I marveled at his ability to keep his job.  As project managers, we’re frequently on the receiving side of abuse, so inwardly, I rejoiced at the “Fuck you!” he routinely doled out.

But outwardly, I was more often alarmed about how poorly he understood his role. His whole attitude demonstrated that he didn’t get the fact that his behavior was a reflection of the brand that employed him. My advice to him, which he failed to observe – ultimately to his demise – was “hold your tongue.” When you’re feeling frustrated and want to go off on your client/the customer, take a breath and shut the fuck up.

3. “I’m sorry.” and “Thank you.”

When customers are mad, you’ve got to recognize they’re looking for scalps. Invariably, by the time they reach you, they’ve already run the gauntlet, gotten the run-around or are simply so frustrated with whatever it is they’re dealing with, that the need no excuse to go thermonuclear.

There are no greater calm-inducing words, than “I’m sorry.” When you say “I’m sorry” as a customer service rep, you’re telling the customer “this is our fault” and putting yourself at their mercy.  Similarly saying “thank you” throughout your interaction, even for the slightest thing, helps to establish that you’re appreciative of the customer working with you to resolve their issue.

4. Never bite the hand that feeds you.

Always remember that the person on the other end of the phone, opposite you at your desk, or on the other side of the counter, directly or indirectly pays your salary. In essence, the customer is your boss. If you wouldn’t tell your boss to (proverbially) kiss your ass, you shouldn’t tell the customer either.

If you treat the customer like your next paycheck depends upon how satisfied they are with your interaction with them, you can’t go wrong. Unless you don’t like money.

5. Don’t be an asshole.

At the end of the day, when someone is having a problem, which you’re in a position to assist them with, your attitude is the last thing they want to deal with. Sure, the customer may be a total jackass, with no home training, and just because you picked up the phone, you’re in their crosshairs and the object of their abuse.

But their lack of home training doesn’t give you license to treat them badly. If you can’t figure out if you’re being an asshole or not, act like you’ve got your grandmother on the other end of the phone, and treat them accordingly.

It’s really quite simple: Keep the customer happy. Keep your job.

Or you could be like the jackass from Comcast – who may not have his by the time the dust from this debacle settles.

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Filed under rant

Louis Vuitton. Customer service. FAIL.

This is what my Louis looked like in it’s prime. Today, not so much.

Note: You can read this long and rambling post or skip to the end and watch the video.

I’ve just got to unburden myself.

I do that occassionally.

I went to Short Hills Mall today, to drop off my Louis Vuitton messenger bag for repair.

I’ve had this bag since 2001, when I bought it for the wife as a diaper bag for our first child.

That bag has been through 3 more children and several trips to the Louis Vuitton store, to fix one defect or another of the bag.

The first two trips were to fix the elastic band, which had snapped.

This third trip was for the handle, which was literally hanging on by a thread.

The leather loop, which held the strap to the bag, had separated at the joint.

I thought it was a simple repair and was quite taken aback as <the unnamed person at the counter> told me that the canvas was so stiff that she doubted it could be repaired.

I didn’t think the fabric was all that stiff, as she attempted to ‘assuage’ my concerns by ‘checking in the back’ to determine whether her assessment was off.

She then walked away, and (I guess) beckoned me to follow her.

I was slightly unsure because she seemed to have been distracted by the appearance of <some long-lost-or-favorite-friend-or-associate-that-was-clearly-more-important-than-providing-me-her-undivided-attention>.

I was therefore (again) taken aback when she came back around the corner she just disappeared behind, with annoyance beckoning me to…the back?

She had placed my bag on a counter around the corner from where I had first encountered <the unnamed person at the counter>.

She then proceeded to tell me the same thing she had previously stated less than 30 seconds ago.

Perhaps her desire to reunite with <some long-lost-or-favorite-friend-or-associate-that-was-clearly-more-important-than-providing-me-her-undivided-attention> was such a distraction, that she forgot she had just given me the exact same rundown.

I racked my brain to see if I had missed some critical detail in her initial assessment, as she once again explained why she thought the bag couldn’t be repaired…because of the stiffness of the fabric.

“They won’t touch it because it might crack, and they wouldn’t want to damage the bag.”

Ummm…the bag IS damaged, that’s why I’ve brought it in.

Okaayyyy…

Then, as if to clear Louis Vuitton of any further responsibility for the condition of my “rather old” bag, she whisked the bag from my clutches and marched around another corner…presumably to “the back”.

And this next point is literally from a movie…

She came right back out of the same around-the-corner doorway she disappeared into five second earlier, proclaiming, “Yeah, it’s too stiff. They won’t touch it.”

And it was done.

My beloved bag was deemed irreparable.

“You want a bag?”

My mourning over my old friend was broken by the thrust of a crisp brown Louis Vuitton shopping bag into which, was deposited my (now) retired friend.

Can’t have the walking wounded on fully display of potential LV owners.

My shame was tucked out of sight in a sleek bag that would have all who gazed upon my departure from the store, see me outfitted with the signature brown bag (with my ‘broken’ messenger bag tastefully hidden away).

She handed me my bag and traipsed off to join <some long-lost-or-favorite-friend-or-associate-that-was-clearly-more-important-than-providing-me-her-undivided-attention>.

There was no, “Can I interest you in another bag?” or “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

Just her back.

When I walked in, I had spied several replacement bags, in the event that the news I received was, in fact, the case.

I’m past the ‘diaper bag’ years, and so I was looking to acquire a new Louis.

My wife has at least seven different pieces, acquired over our 12 year marriage, so I’ve been super loyal to the brand.

The only reason I took the bag there was because of their (formerly) superb customer service.

And the pride (they formerly seemed to take) in their work.

So I was committed to acquiring a new piece.

But this chick pissed me off so bad…

I told my three kids, who I had with me…

Oh yeah, I had my kids with me.

…that we were leaving and hoofed out of the store.

Where I paused, and called customer service to get their response to my repair situation.

I had been so thoroughly dismissed by old girl, that I felt I couldn’t rely on her perfunctory assessment.

When I got through to <an unnamed operator> and ran down the situation, she confirmed that Louis Vuitton would not take for repair, any item that was deemed not sufficiently supple to withstand a repair that could potentially rip the fabric.

She apologized and hurriedly asked me if there was anything else she could do.

I barely finished saying “No thank you. I..” and she was gone.

No, “Can I get your name and email?” or  “Can I send you a catalogue of our new line of messenger bags.”

Just dial tone.

I kid you not.

No effort at all made to assess whether they could help me replace my (obviously) now useless Louis.

I couldn’t believe how bad these guys were flubbing an opportunity to sell me another bag.

Mind you, you’ve got to drop coin to get these stupid brown canvas bags.

Oooo…it’s stamped with an L and a V.

Ahhh….the pink leather patinas over time and takes on this rich tan hue.

Kick rocks!

But here I am, with a bag I can no longer use and not one person at the store or on the phone, even interested in helping me buy another bag.

And so now, in my heart, Louis Vuitton has stepped into the place of poor customer service.

I pay homage to you, old friend Louis Vuitton, with a video.

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Filed under opinion, rant