No One Listens

By Larry Teren

The other day a voice in a radio commercial said that no one listens to customers anymore. Ya think?

1. My mother’s land line telephone went out on a Monday night. She called me on her cell phone. I came over and validated that we needed to call the phone company for repair service. I called the repair number, punched in all the requisite information and an automated voice responded indicating that the earliest response time would be Thursday, three days later.

This is the attitude of a major player in land line phone service? To keep a customer waiting for three days to use their service again? I called them the next morning and this time spoke to a human being. I played the senior citizen empathy card explaining to the customer service agent that my mother had a lifeline pendant that tied into her phone service. If no phone, no way would her emergency alert signal work.

That opened the magical door. The agent told me that he would try to push her closer up on the repair wait list. I received an automated call less than a half hour later that a repairman would be out to her place that day. The repairman called me an hour later. I warned my mother of his arrival and within two hours her phone was fixed.

But what about the other customers? Why should anyone have to wait so long to get phone service restored? What happened to customer service?

2. I decided it was time to have a blazer dry cleaned. I went to an establishment that was new to me but in business at that location for several years. I brought the jacket to the young lady working the cash register. She asked for my phone number but I quickly realized she wasn’t asking me out on a date. The next part of the conversation took about two minutes longer than needed because rock music was blasting in the background. I told her that I couldn’t make out half of what she said. She looked at me as if to wonder why I wasn’t in a nursing home where I didn’t have to worry about dressing up.

Next, she asked for immediate prepayment rather than when I returned for pickup. I asked why- she said because sometimes they had to try two or three times to get out stains. If the effort wasn’t a success the customer might not want to pay. So they demanded the money up front.

It must be tough to be in a business where going in you don’t trust most of your customers. Are you listening?