Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A sad tale of customer service

On Sunday I severed my relationship with a local business after over 13 years. I had logged problems with this company's service through their automated phone line for a number of months. Seeing that this wasn't resulting in change, I tried to speak to a customer service representative about a month ago. The uninterested response should have told me all that I needed to know, but I stuck with it a while longer because I actually like this company's product a lot.

Well, the problems continued, and I decided that I had had enough. I called on Saturday, December 1 to cancel my service. On this day I found what seems to be the only employee who had an interest in customer service. He promised to have a manager review the problems that I had reported if I would not cancel my service. I agreed to give them a week to fix the problem, but I let him know that it should not take a call to cancel my service in order to get them to do something about the problems I had reported.

So the week comes and goes, and nothing changes. I called at breakfast Sunday to cut them loose for good. This time I got another uninterested customer service agent who simply did what I asked.

There I sat knowing that for the first time in over 13 years I would not longer be doing business with a company who had a really good product. Who is this company? It is none other than the Dallas Morning News. They have arguably one of the best newspapers in the country, but they were not able to consistently deliver it to me on Saturday and Sunday.

I think that this is a sign of the times with Belo, the parent company of the DMN. It baffles me that a company can have an automated phone unit for reporting problems that never signals for a review when a customer repeatedly reports that their paper has not been delivered. That's just bad business. I think that the problem of uninterested customer service representatives goes well beyond the Dallas Morning News. You could make the case that customer service is a lost art.

There are a few companies that do an outstanding job in this area, and they really stand out. Two examples that come readily to mind are Starbucks and Sport Clips. If you frequent Starbucks, you know what I'm talking about. Sport Clips may not be as well known. It is a sports themed place for guys to get a hair cut. Having used chains like Super Cuts for all of my adult life, I was used to places where the entire staff might turnover between hair cuts. However, I've been going to Sport Clips in Hurst for about a year and half now, and the majority of the staff that is there now was there in June of 2006. They keep a database of notes so that if you get a different stylist the next time, they know at least how you got your hair cut the last time.

So, it is possible to find good customer service. I'm not going to find out if the Fort Worth Star Telegram can do a better job than the Dallas Morning News. The paper was there when I left for work today so they're off to a good start. Saturday and Sunday will tell the tale though.

Until next time...


ASC said...

The DMN is evil....but we continue to get it because I need it for work purposes. Big brother Belo is part of the problem, and the paper is just "too big for their britches!"

PT ben said...

My wife insists we get the DMN for her work purposes. It can go in the recycle bin for all I care. Though I get my paper delivered to my front door every day. Instead of at the curb 40' away.

How you ask? A bad customer service experience. Just before they went to automation, we had not received our Saturday paper (around 9a). Our route supervisor had given my wife his number to call regarding any non deliveries. After waiting an hour without a call back from him, I called the main dispatch and logged my missing paper. 5 minutes later I get a call from the route manager screaming at me to never call the main number and he would take care of it. He was yelling so loud my wife could here him across the room. needless to say, a letter was generated by my PR wife and the paper has landed right by the door almost every day since.

That's sad that companies will let loyal customers 'walk' without batting an eye. Customer Service is gone.

Anonymous said...

We were having some delivery problems with the South Bend Tribune, but they were always cordial when we called. They have a hard time keeping carriers, I know, but for the present, they seem to have solved the problem. They always call back to see if we've gotten our paper. It was awarded the best newspaper in Ind., and we really like it. Mom