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    Bad, BAD Customer… No soup for you!!!

    Posted by Luis Serpa on October 6, 2006 - 5:00 PM

    No Soup For You“That’s it! I’ve been on hold for the past 45 min! If you don’t transfer me right now, I will…” – CLICK – And after that, all you hear is the dreadful tone of the busy line, indicating that, despite all your threats, you were disconnected – AGAIN!
    If you ever suspected the call-center reps to hang-up on you on purpose, or ever felt like being grounded for misbehaving, you are probably right!
    Despite the general belief, call-center reps are people too. As humans, they sometimes can’t help but to react in despicable or selfish ways, undoing the very purpose of their work. After a while, it is just natural that a group of such individuals would develop a set of unspoken rules (not necessarily the correct ones, I must say) to shield them against bad or angry customers. So, if you fail to live up to their expectations as a customer, you may as well be immediately judged guilty and banished from receiving assistance.
    But DON’T WORRY! Things are changing. In fact, everything I just mentioned may already be in the past.
    No… I am not selling any new miraculous call-center training method or a clever “how to reach call-center nirvana” article. I am not even saying that call-center reps are getting more tolerant or predicting that companies’ services are becoming more reliable. Just the opposite! They are becoming more crafty and resourceful. What once were just unspoken guidelines are quickly turning into official company rules with support of up-to-date technology.
    According to Liz Pulliam Weston in the article ‘Are you a bad customer?‘:

    “Service providers are deciding some of their customers simply aren’t worth the trouble. Aided by massive computer databases (…) they figure out which customers cost them money and shunt them to the back of the line.”

    Although I believe it is perfectly fine for a company to reward its premium customers, penalizing the “not so good” ones seems a little overboard. It leaves too much room for mistakes and may put too much power in the wrong hands. In addition, it’s really a bizarre role reversal when a customer is afraid of being blacklisted by the company she pays to provide her a service.
    Now, to any company that may be considering doing something like this:

    I understand that some customers can be really a nuisance. Some are loud, rude, and even unprofitable. But hey, you were the one doing almost anything to attract them in the first place. And let’s be honest here: you were probably the one that first failed to live up to expectations.
    So, don’t give that false pretense that the service will be more efficient and all “deserving” customers will ultimately benefit. If your customers are very good, reward them and they may stay with you for a long while. If your customers are bad or unprofitable, let them go. Maybe the competition will value them more than you did.
    However, don’t be surprised if each “unworthy” customer is able to influence others on her way out. Who knows! Maybe those others are even part of your most profitable group.
    In fact, don’t listen to anything I am saying here. Just keep “enhancing” your systems and protocols towards customer alienation. In the end, we will see which set of rules hold more weight: yours or the market’s.
    I know which option MY money is on…

    See original post at Vox Inc.

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    7 Responses to “Bad, BAD Customer… No soup for you!!!”

    1. Bad, BAD Customer… No soup for you!!!…

      Some customers can really be a nuisance, but is it right to penalize them for…

    2. VeraBass says:

      Great post.

      Sad to say it, but the most effective customer response is ‘manipulative customer training’, also known by less offensive sounding euphemisms such as ‘social engineering’.

      Over the past five years, I’ve been repeatedly encountering a new experience. If I say (in a calm tone) that I have been a customer for 25 years the response is a blank stare and, essentially, ‘so what?’. Well, ok, maybe you don’t care anymore whether I leave now, but why don’t you care about the fact that your company kept me happy for that long? My parents’ generation stayed in the same job for decades till retirement. The world has changed a lot, for both good and not so good. The thing that concerns me most is the declining value and transient nature of loyalty and relationships.


    3. Luis Serpa says:

      You are totally right, Vera!

      It’s not only that customer support fails to treat different people differently, but they also fail to recognize a long time (probably satisfied) customer in her efforts to show the company that something is wrong. The company should be grateful that someone is willing to help them work things out instead of just going away, leaving no clue of what happened.
      Unfortunately, we see that companies are focusing their budgets on “call-center productivity” with no regards to real customer experience.

    4. Well I totally disagree with the fact that the customer should be categorized as good or bad. If the customer is not happy with the service he receives, he finds another service provider (lack of patience/understanding or trust).On the other hand the customer service representatives do get irate customers who fail to understand that the rep is only an employee and not the BOSS who can take decisions and resolve their query. They have their limitations according to the company policy. for example, Imagine a physically challenged customer who buys on site warranty for his computer. There is some memory issue with the computer and by reseating the memory, the issue will be resolved. There is no one at the customer’s house who could help him nor does the rep have any choice. customer wants an onsite technician to visit and fix the problem. But according to the policy rep can’t send one for this issue. Who is at fault? Customer, company or the rep. IMO There are certain situations which do not have an immediate solution. The company and the customer should arrive at common platform to obtain a solution. Especially for issues that are complex.

    5. This segmentation of customers into premium customers and “not so good” ones seems to be a decision taken in bad faith. I completely agree with the point mentioned above that each unworthy customer is capable of influencing others on the way out even those who are a part of their most profitable group.

    6. cat says:

      you know, call center reps are people, too, and they are not the one’s selling you the crappy product or figuring out if you are profitable or not. most of them are kids too poor to go to collage or singles mother’s barely scraping by making about $9 and hour. they are not there for your personal abuse. if you want to make waves and feel more rightous, try attacking the real villians: the higher ups in the company. the reps you first reach on the phone have no power to change the company and are probably praying that this week maybe, JUST MAYBE, the call center will actually get their healthcare paper work through so they can get the cavity fixed that has been bothering them for the past seven months.

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