Would it surprise you if I said consumers don’t believe the personal and financial data they submit to corporations is safe?
The basics of good customer service, like courtesy and attentiveness, may be free. But great service? That’s expensive.
Consider what happened to Virginia Bibliowicz’ father, who rented a car from Budget recently. Shortly after he picked up the vehicle in Knoxville, Tenn., he suffered a heart attack and died.
“When my sister and her husband returned the car later, Budget refused to let them pay the charges,” she says. “I think Budget and this rep should be commended, and they will certainly always have our business.”
Customer service isn’t what it used to be.
You’ve probably heard your parents or grandparents say it — heck, maybe you’ve said it — but other than vague memories of the way things were, you had no proof.
Well, now you do.
A new survey by Arizona State University reviews historical data on the customer experience going back to a 1976 White House study. It found the amount of people reporting customer problems climbed from 32 percent in the 1976 study to 45 percent in 2011, and then 50 percent in 2013.
As Juanita Centanni boarded a recent Cayman Airways flight from Tampa to Grand Cayman, she braced herself for an awful travel experience.
She remembered what happened to her on a domestic flight not so long ago, when she was recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Centanni, a retired government employee, wondered if one of the flight attendants could help with her carry-on bag.
“Ask one of the passengers,” the airline employee snapped.
So when a Cayman Airways attendant met her at the door without any prompting, offering to carry her luggage and stow it in the overhead compartment, she couldn’t believe it.
“I was amazed,” she says.
It’s the proverbial man-bites-dog story for consumer reporters: an over-the-top customer service experience in which an employee goes the extra mile.
It’s even more rare — on the order of man-bites-man — to find a proven way to extract the very best service from employees.
I won’t mince words. Men are not biting men.
But a series of recent stories and one reader’s experience give me hope that it’s possible. In other words, you could get superior service every time you go to the store or log on to your computer to go shopping.
No one likes a whiner.
Crybabies rarely get what they want, and even when they do, they end up looking ridiculous. If you don’t believe me, just spend a few minutes reading the comments on my consumer advocacy site. Or watch this video of a woman who missed her flight.
When it comes to getting the customer service you deserve, you don’t want to be whiner, but a winner.
Ever apologized to a business? If you said “never,” then maybe you don’t have kids.
At some point, each of my children has slipped a candy bar or lollipop — strategically stocked at kid-level in the checkout area — into their pockets without first informing Mom or Dad. When we discovered the transgression, we raced back to the store, paid for the item and apologized. Profusely.
Then we gave the kids a stern lecture about paying for merchandise before leaving the store. We haven’t had any relapses, but then again, the teen years are just around the corner. Fingers crossed.
I hear a lot of apologies in my line of work. But as a consumer advocate, they almost always go one way: the company apologizes to a customer for a problem, actual or perceived. Sometimes, the tables should be turned.