The other day a reporter call to interview me on the “Death of Customer Service". My first reaction was to deny that charge and claim that customer service is very much alive and well. But upon further thought of the service I’ve received over the past few months and what others have related to me about their experiences, I had to admit that the quality and level of service has decreased. Upon further thought I realized that it has been on a decline for quite a while.
I finally admitted to the reporter that yes, I have to agree that customer service is not doing as well as I’d like to think it is. Of course his next question was, “Why is that?"
I believe there are 4 basic reasons for the demise of customer service.
- The booming economy of the 90’s created an atmosphere where management took the stance that if one customer didn’t like what they were doing, there were plenty lined up behind him/her that had their credit card ready to be processed. Why go the extra mile for someone who was so easily replaceable? This attitude is still pervasive which adds up to poor customer service.
- Poor hiring practices are what I believe to be another reason why customer service is so poor. Unemployment ahs been so low that finding new employees has been a major challenge for companies. They hired marginal people, people with poor attitudes, people with poor work ethics, and people who don’t care. Put these employees in a position where they interact with customers and you have a formula for poor customer service.
- Lack of training of these marginal employees is another problem. Managers have the philosophy that since the employee won’t last that long in the position, why put the time, money and effort into training them. Of course the lack of training leads to low morale, confusion on the part of the employee and costly mistakes. The employee doesn’t last in the position because they don’t feel supported by management, then management feels justified for the lack of training they give. This all adds up to poor customer service.
- Profit driven decisions of management as the criteria for solving all problems is another reason for the death of customer service. Rather than do the ‘right’ thing, decisions are weighted by what it will cost the company. Scheduling is planned by what it costs in dollars rather than what it costs in poor service. Customer complaints are judged by the impact on the bottom line rather than on the impact on customer satisfaction. This short-term thinking gives out the clear message to employees that the company’s needs are more important than the customer’s. This justifies the attitude of employees of not caring about the customer which again adds up to the delivery of poor customer service.
Margo Chevers, author of the book STOP the BS (bad service), has been providing sales and customer service seminars and consulting to a diverse cross-section of industries for the past 15 years. For information about Margo Chevers’ speaking or training schedule call (800) 858-0797 or Margo@MargoChevers.com