Awesome Customer Service Requires The Complete Package

Nice and knowledgeable go together like peas and carrots.

Nice and knowledgeable go together like peas and carrots.

This post originally appeared on the FCR blog on September 11, 2015.  Click here to read the original.

Can you guess what my first phone call was after moving to a new house in a new city?  You guessed it — internet service provider (ISP).  In my location I have exactly one option for internet service and it just happens to be everyone’s favorite ISP.  Being a customer service fan, I actually got some sort of rush as if I was flirting with the dark side.  In reality, it’s probably more like playing with fire, hoping I don’t get burned.

The process of signing up for service was fairly simple.  I use my internet service for light browsing, email, social media, and of course marathon viewings of Portlandia to get to know my new state a little better.  The salesperson immediately heard “streaming” and told me I needed one of the faster plans.  I said “no thanks” and stuck with the least expensive plan.  I made the right decision.

The installer showed up the next day.  After discussing the best place to put our router, we determined he needed to drill a hole in the side of the house and move a cable.  Mind you there was no mention of this costing any extra on top of the set up fee.  Fast forward a couple weeks and my bill included a $35 fee for this service.

I contacted customer service via chat and stated my case.  The representative was extremely friendly but only offered to credit me $20.  She absolutely could not understand that I wouldn’t have authorized the work had I known it was $35.  The whole exchange felt a whole lot like hitting my head against a brick wall and I eventually ended the call with some sort of, “Ok. Fine. Whatever. Bye.”  I then proceeded to give that customer satisfaction survey a piece of my mind.  For all I know, it fell on deaf ears.  I certainly haven’t heard anything from the manager I directed my ire at.

Anyone Can Be Nice

I’ve been chewing on this experience for a while, trying to find the lesson.  The first thing to observe here is that I dealt with people in sales, technical support, and customer service.  In all cases, they could not have been more friendly.  They were respectful and pleasant to deal with.  That should have been enough, right?

Nice Isn’t Enough

I really wish nice had been enough, but let’s observe why it wasn’t.  Here are the key events where there was a problem:

  1. Sales tried to sell me something I didn’t need.
  2. Technical support installed something without informing me of the additional fees.
  3. Customer service was not empowered to waive a fee that I never approved.

Nice didn’t prevent me from getting frustrated and feeling like I couldn’t trust the company.  It couldn’t prevent me from forming an opinion that this company has a bunch of policies that aren’t customer-friendly.

Nice Requires Knowledge And Empowered

I’m struck by the fact that from the perspective of each of the people I dealt with, they were nice and therefore my interactions with them were probably rated highly by the quality assurance department.  This is a great example of how to achieve excellent quality scores while receiving low customer satisfaction scores.

Conclusion

This ISP has been a common thread in so many customer service debacles in recent years and has since laid out an impressive plan for improving.  If my experience is an indicator of success, it appears that they’ve invested in being nice but not so much in communicating clearly and empowering their staff to get it right.  For any company interested in making a true difference in customer service, they had better make sure their staff is equipped with the complete package.

[custom_author=admin]

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *