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Customer Service Requires a Different Breed…

The time is now 1:30 after midnight and I am still on the phone with customer service. 

“Please can you just call me back when you figure it out and just let me know?” I asked the customer service representative… “I really wanna go to sleep.”

“Sorry sir” the gentleman on the other end of the phone responded. “This is our policy….you’ve gotta stay with me on the line until I reschedule you on another flight.”

I never realized that a global travel agency that brands itself as one of the leading travel companies in the world can be horrifically bad when it comes to resolving a travel issue that I personally had nothing to do with, but rather, an issue that was entirely theirs due to a flight schedule change on their part.

After being on the phone with customer service for quite some time, they still couldn’t schedule me on another flight. And to make things worse, they kept insisting that I needed to stay on the line until they find me on a different flight. I just wanted to hang up and go to sleep. But, they kept insisting that I stay on as this is their policy.

Excuse me? Do you call this a policy? What kind of policy is that? This is literally a “Customer Suffering Policy!” I mean, I was giving them full authority and permission to make all the reservation changes they want and just book me on the next flight as they see fit. I wasn’t even too picky on any particular date. My schedule was quite open. But, no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn’t let me hang up as this is their policy.

So, what’s the real problem here? This is something we experience on a regular basis with lots of companies, unfortunately. When you have processes in place that follow “silly” policies, (at least that’s how they’re perceived by most customers) this will only reflect on the inability to provide good customer service. And if their purpose is to “serve customers,” such policies end up dis-serving customers. In such scenarios, no matter how hard the representative tries to help out, such an effort becomes simply useless and, unfortunately, the main problem at hand might very well become personal. Customers really don’t care how companies need to conduct their business. At the end of the day, customers simply want quick solutions to their problems. 

Now, to add insult to injury, the situation even turned worse. During the time I was on hold, I went back on their website to check out what other options I might have since it was taking them forever and ever to reschedule me on another flight. And, guess what? Bingo!!! I was able to find another option that was about 50 dollars less. That’s when I flipped out. “Enough is enough,” I thought to myself! 

When that customer service representative got back on the line, I insisted that my original reservation gets canceled and demanded a full refund. I mean, what kind of service are they trying to provide here? Isn’t customer service also about going out of your way to finding other solutions to issues that are taking so long time to resolve?

But anyways, there’s always that bright side to every horror story. Thanks to such an experience, I now have a solid case that I can use in my training courses to showcase how bad customer service can get when a company is stuck with a lot of red-tape and non-customer-centric policies that don’t make any sense.  

In very simplistic terms, processes, to the most part, need to be customer-centric. This simply means that processes need to revolve around serving the customer and not the company only. So, in a nutshell, if there’s any way we can make our processes serve our customers first and foremost by maintaining high-quality standards at the same time, with the least amount of time wasted on bureaucratic procedures, then as a business, we need to do whatever it takes to make sure that this is happening.  Customers simply want their problems resolved as quickly as possible. 

And one more thing…I got so sick and tired of hearing the same phrase “I’m sorry sir, I’m sorry sir” over and over again. If you don’t have a solution to my problem, stop repeatedly saying such an annoying phrase. Your apologies are not gonna get me anywhere, buddy.

Finally, just a quick word for you all, out there…

“Customer Service is not only about being nice, serving customers, and having a smile on your face. “Customer Service is put to the test when customers face a problem! Yes, that’s when it’s most needed and expected. How efficiently and effectively we deal with such problems says it all. “Customer Service” is no longer about meeting and exceeding expectations! This is already expected and it’s boring. “Customer Service” is simply about DELIGHTING customers by going out of your way, finding or even creatively coming up with a solution, and making sure your customers feel that you’re that right person out there who truly cares about them. 

But, for this to happen, this requires a different breed of people, both on a managerial and on a service level as well. For this to happen, we really need to first learn, understand, and fathom what the word “delight” means.  

Thank you...

Ohh, as for the photo, that's my stray pet, Makdouseh, in Aytat, Mount Lebanon 🙂

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