Sadistic Customer Service & Masochistic Customers

by Sandra Fathi on January 12, 2008

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Why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to be beaten to a pulp, used and abused and mercilessly left for dead on hold by sadistic customer service representatives from companies that we pay good money for their bad service? In the last few weeks, I have experienced an inordinate amount of appalling customer service.

For my colleagues in the office, its quite funny that the cable guy has been to my house three times in one week. Thanks Cablevision! (Maybe the fourth time’s the charm because it still doesn’t work.) Or the fact that the new plasma TV I bought from Circuit City turned out to be a returned item that was used and scratched and didn’t even turn on when I took it out of the box. I have also had a month-long email argument (because they won’t talk with you on the phone) with Yahoo Shopping! (My husband has a Yahoo Store, BabyRide.com, and his Yahoo Shopping account suddenly shut off December 13th. Today we received an email saying we’ll just have to wait 28 days until the system will allow us to turn on our account again. I can tell they are really empathetic that the business lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue during the busiest time of the year.)

Unfortunately, its not only the giant, nameless, faceless corporations that are disappointing. It’s the web design firm (whom I can’t name yet because the project is still incomplete – but, don’t worry, we are only four months past our target launch date!), my account manager at one of the big wire services that didn’t answer any of my emails or phone calls for three months… Ah, the list goes on. After a recent fight with one of these incompetent vendors, Leslie and I tried to conjure up the name of a single service provider that we had been completely, or even mildly, satisfied with. We could not name a single one. How pathetic. (Not the service providers, but we are the ones that are pathetic for putting up with it.)

As a company, we would never treat our clients the way we allow ourselves to be treated. On a weekly basis, I receive calls from PR firm refugees that have been driven out of the companies that they have been paying tens of thousands of dollars to on a monthly basis. The tales of cruel and unusual punishment that they share with us make me question why they would stay with a firm for so long that clearly did not deliver what they promised, takes them for granted and charges them exorbitant fees for college interns working on their accounts. It’s unimaginable, yet it happens every day.

I know that we over service every client that we work with, we bend over backwards to make our clients happy, we treat our clients with respect, we operate our business with integrity and we deliver value on a daily basis. Our business is based on ethical practices, honesty and transparency with our clients, and a genuine, vested interest in our clients’ success.

2008 will be our sixth year in business. We are a small firm, with a big heart. Although we may not be the largest or most profitable public relations firm out there, I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished for our company, our employees and our clients. I hope that we will continue our ‘modus operandi’ and that we will find more firms with the same commitment to true customer service.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie 01.18.08 at 11:30 am

I almost hate to ask…but did they finish the installation over the weekend? Is there a thrilling conclusion to this tale (yet)?

Sandra 01.18.08 at 5:07 pm

TV is in, the cable is out. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the fourth time is the final time they come out. After that, I am going back to bunny ears and VHS.

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