As the homogenization of the world spreads into every nook and cranny of our existence, companies we never thought would become whitewashed, have adopted the procedures of sterilized corporate
Often wrapped in the pseudo shroud of better customer service, major chain concepts in both the culinary and the consumer product department continue to grow, prosper, and expand while trading in these principles for those of rapid branding.
Two examples come to mind, instantly, as both have grown past the point of competency when it comes to their customer service techniques.
One is a culinary concept and the other a tire giant. Both completely failed to deliver, recently when it came to the products they sell. In both cases human error was involved and the companies suffered because of it.
Yet, when it came time for the customer service departments of each of these companies to correct the problem, they made the situations worse. In each case the customer service representative asked what could be done to save the business and in each case the answer was simple: The customer wanted to speak with the executive assistant to the president of each of the companies. Neither service rep would allow that to happen. Immediately the “block the call” technique was invoked ignoring the customer’s attempt to resolve the problem.
I will bet that neither company’s presidents will ever be informed of the problem which in many instances is why the customer service department is created in the first place. I have also found that most restaurant and business owners want to know about the inefficiencies of their staff- at least when they are growing- so they can resolve the problems from within.
But, the implementation of a customer service department does not necessarily signify customer service. Frequently is denotea a company has more problems than they can handle. It also implies they are getting too big, too fast, while struggling to keep their eye on the ball.
As owners we all need to remember a few things. Don’t ever forget where you came from. Don’t ever forget where you’ve been. Keep an eye on where you want to go and how to get there. And finally, the customer should always have the opportunity to speak to the owner’s assistant. Just like they used to be able to before Specialty’s Bakery and Les Schwab became brands rather than customer oriented companies.