CUSTOMER SERVICE

The real reason legacy airlines are awful

Because they can.

That’s my conclusion after finishing the missing emails from April and May. America’s legacy airlines are awful because they can be awful, and because we let them.

The graph (above) comes directly from data provided by the authoritative American Customer Service Index. Don’t confuse it with one of those incomprehensible charts posted on an airline fanblog. This is the real deal — it’s the last decade of service scores.
Continue reading…


3 reasons social media matters more than you think

Alexandr/Shutterstock
Alexandr/Shutterstock

It’s true, social media fatigue is starting to set in across the Internet.

Consumers say they’re tired of receiving useless information through the latest and greatest social network and wary of giving up their personal data. A recent Pew survey, for example, says as much as 38 percent of Facebook users plan to use the service less this year.

But here’s one good reason you shouldn’t delete your Facebook or Twitter account yet: Companies are paying close attention to what you say.

Closer than you can imagine.
Continue reading…


The art of persuasion: 5 things you can say to get better service

Voronin/Shutterstock
Voronin/Shutterstock
It isn’t the horse that makes the wagon go. It’s the carrot you put in front of his nose.

That’s an old Russian proverb, and it reminds me how customer service people sometimes won’t go out of their way to help you unless you persuade them to.

Sure, a true professional will always do the job as required. But don’t you want better service? Here are some time-tested phrases you can use to get it.
Continue reading…


Are you being fed a line? 5 secrets for breaking through the script

Marcinski/Shutterstock
Marcinski/Shutterstock
Talk to me.

That’s all customers like you want when they call a company. They want someone to talk to them.

But corporations don’t always talk back. Last week, I mentioned the second-generation form letters many consumers were getting. Turns out there’s a little more to the story.

For the better part of the last decade, large companies have scripted many of their most common call-center responses. What does that mean? Well basically, when you contact a company with a question, the agent can type in the issue into their computer and receive a “scripted” response that will answer the question. Then they read it back to you.
Continue reading…


Is your complaint being “form lettered”? Here are three ways to tell

Anaken/Shutterstock
Anaken/Shutterstock
It was just a matter of time before corporations created the perfect form letter, capable of fooling a veteran consumer advocate. Or you.

You know what I’m talking about: those emails that say “we’re sorry you feel that way,” but offering you nothing for a customer-service failure.

Spotting a form letter used to be super easy, which was helpful, because you could quickly appeal the boilerplate rejection to a supervisor. In the early days of email, when low-level agents didn’t understand the difference between text and HTML, you could actually see the cut-and-paste responses, because they were rendered in a different font. You knew you were being fed a line.

Now? Not so much.
Continue reading…


What makes you happiest? Your TV — and here’s why

Traj4/Shutterstock
Traj4/Shutterstock
Jessica Beeman paid $779 for her 50-inch TV, a purchase she was pleased with, until one day “it just stopped” working. And then she wasn’t.

“We didn’t do anything to it,” she says. “It won’t turn on. The red power button light blinks over and over.”

At the time, I had no idea how rare her complaint was — and how fleeting. I asked her to send me the documentation on the busted household appliance. But within hours, Beeman reported back.

“They fixed it,” she told me. “All for free.”
Continue reading…


“I never forgot how kind this hotel was to us”

Kimberly Palmer/Shutterstock
Kimberly Palmer/Shutterstock

I’m researching an article about hotel cancellation policies for the Washington Post, but one of the stories shared by a reader resonated with me so much that I just had to pass it along. It’s another heartwarming, almost too-good-to-be-true tale of customer service.

Last winter, Lauren Staley and her husband were driving from Colorado back to California, where they live. They’d planned to spend the night at the halfway point, in Elko, Nev. But they never made it.

“A huge snowstorm caught us unaware,” she remembers. “We ended up stopped on the Salt Flats [in Utah] for several hours due to an accident, and by the time we got moving again the sun had gone down and the roads were completely iced over.”
Continue reading…