Why Do I Keep Having To Repeat Myself?

Ok, I have one more dig at my favorite membership warehouse.  I’m sure it’s obvious the establishment I am referring to but let me first say that I pay to shop there, will continue to pay to shop there, and their return policy has proven time and time again to be second to none.  So that will at least temper my critique of their customer service a little bit.  I guess for that matter, I’ll categorize this post as both good and bad customer service.  There, I feel better.

Every other time I shop there, the cashier hands my membership card to a team member walking around with a hand held scanner.  As they scan my card I think to myself “Oh great, here we go again.”  The last time it occurred, the employee said “You’ve probably heard this before but…” and I cut in and said “Yeah I have and I’m not interested.  Thanks.”  To which they reply, “Sorry about that.  I have no way of knowing if someone has talked to you before about this.”

For those of you who don’t know, they are trying to upsell me with the $100 membership that includes cash back instead of my $50 membership.  They say that the cash back from my purchases will pay for the increased membership fee.  Whatever.  Maybe I don’t want to pay $50 extra up front to get a rebate check 9 months later.  Or perhaps I would like to think one year I won’t rack up a ton in impulse spending.  I do have an optimistic side.

There’s a lesson to be learned here and it’s the importance of CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  I guarantee this company has an extensive history on my spending habits at their stores over the last 12+ years I’ve been a member.  Are you telling me they can’t have some kind of preference on my customer record that says I have rejected the premium membership no less than ten times?  Somewhere, somehow they have to be able to add something that says “Stop asking this guy because he always says no.”

I’ve been mulling over this blog post for about a week and then saw this bit of feedback on a recent customer satisfaction survey.  I am reminded of a quote from Ken Blanchard that says Feedback is the breakfast of champions.  Here’s what our customer said:

Generally good customer service. One improvement you could make would be to have better ‘customer information continuity’ when you hand off issues from one technician to another. I seemed to have to report my system information 3 or 4 times to different representatives. That became a bit tiresome.

Are you seeing the common theme here?  In order to offer efficient support that does not give customers the run around, it is essential to have a system that allows you to document every interaction with the customer in one central location.  Support representatives need to be well trained to scan this any time they speak with the customer and by doing so eliminate the frustration of the customer repeating themselves over and over again.

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 also the co-founder 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.

3 comments

  • This is such a valid point–no one wants to repeat themselves. I’ve called my internet company to report issues, only to be transferred around from person to person, having to repeat myself EVERY TIME.

    For us, this stresses the importance of “Communication Logs”. If the customer calls in for an issue then contacts us a couple days later about another issue but references the original issue and there are no notes, it makes them feel like we don’t care. It makes them feel like we are not good at documenting our customer’s issues and overall, just harms the entire customer experience.

  • Your comments regarding customer service and information continuity are right on the mark. Let me take this one step further. I have had the experience of calling major communications companies and being at the luck of the draw.

    I was trying to cancel cable service for my 97 year old mother in law who had just moved into a retirement home and no longer needed it. I am listed as an authorized signer on her account. The representative that I got told me there was an issue with her bill so I said I would take care of it but needed the account canceled now. She would not do it. I asked specifically can you cancel the account for me now or not. “It’s complicated” is all she would say and refused to answer my question. I hung up. A few days later, being somewhat masochistic, I tried again. No problem. Account canceled and everyone was happy. The subject of past due amounts (of which there were none) was never raised. The luck of the draw it seems!

    A few weeks later, my youngest daughter who lives in Chicago went to our mobile service provider and was promised a replacement for a defective smart phone. They sent the replacement to me in Baltimore! When I called the service provider, I was told that it was my problem and I should pay to ship it to her in Chicago. When I asked why I should pay for their mistake, I was told that’s just the way it is. Since I had no idea what the package was and there was no source name on it, I had opened it to see what it was. For that reason, UPS could not take it back as a “refused” delivery. I needed a shipping label from the carrier! (sigh) OK, I called again. This time, the rep immediately saw the issue, saw the earlier notes, recognized that it was in fact their error, and corrected the issue. I gave him my daughter’s correct address, returned the wrong phone via UPS at their cost, and everything was resolved with no angst at all.

    So why is it the luck of the draw? Is it poor training? Is it inadequate procedures? As a customer, this hit or miss is infuriating. As someone involved in helping with customer service, I would never want to inflict this inconsistency on my customers! That’s a great way to lose them – despite the stellar efforts of some. The dismal efforts of others unfortunately overshadow the good!

    • Wow, these stories are fantastic. How many customers will never call back after getting a wrong answer and just leave and tell 10 friends why they left? I think stats show that probability is very, very high. This just cements in my mind the importance of rock solid training to ensure that if a question is posed to any support representative, the answer is correct 1000 times out of 1000. The challenge becomes greater as more and more representatives are added. Thanks you for these wonderful illustrations!

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