The Art of the customer- Is customer service a lost Art? Part One
Okay folks, I’m about to rant in about oh-two seconds. I recently became acutely aware of the fact that almost nobody cares about taking care of the customer anymore. I was aware of this fact on a recent trip back from NYC to the Bay Area. Typically I like to take a shuttle from the airport particularly when my flight is a late one. I arrived at Oakland Airport at about 12:15 am after a rather lengthy flight (By the way if you have to fly cross country, fly Jetblue-very comfortable and you get your own T.V.) Anyway, I made reservations for a pick up with a national shuttle service( whose first initial is S.). I’ve used them before and mostly without incident. This time, was a different story, however. The shuttle service requires that you call their 800 number to inform the dispatch of your arrival. Once I called (I kept them in my phone’s address book because I use them a lot) I was put through to dispatch. After about 20 rings with no answer I decided to hang up and try again. By the 6th try with still no answer from dispatch I got really ticked off. Now, what you need to know is that the public transportation that links Oakland to San Francisco stops running about 12:30. Which is the reason I made the reservation with the service to begin with. By this time it was about 1:30. I kept trying-hoping to get someone to talk to me just to let me know when someone would be arriving to pick me up. After being hung up on several more times and by this time cold, tired and more than a little annoyed, I went with Plan B. The taxi. And just so you know, taxi fares from Oakland airport to San Francisco are about $50.00 plus; which doesn’t include the toll fare across the bridge (another $4.00). By about 1:45 I got a call from the service asking whether or not I was still interested in the service (by this time I was about ¼ of the way home) to which I declined. The next day-still supremely ticked off by the fact that my fare was more than twice what it should be, I decided to call the company’s quality assurance department to complain and see about reimbursement. Now one of the great things about being a cold caller is that you learn to be persistent (where appropriate of course) in most situations. When I couldn’t get a hold of anyone in that department, I tried the main number-again. After they took my statement and filed a report, they informed me that someone would get back to me…. In about 3-5 days. Ten days later with no return call in sight I tried speaking with a manager who of course wouldn’t take my call. I left voice mail messages and sent e-mails. After threatening to take legal action (always a last ditch effort) I finally got a call from the Q/A department. The charming young woman who returned the call informed me that not only had she been on the job for only a few weeks but she was the only person in the department who could handle my problem (management is an important part of maintaining good relations with your customers) . Once she looked at the report (finding sympathy with my plight) she told me that I would be getting a check for the difference of the taxi fare minus what I would have paid for their service, in about 7-10 days. A small victory I know but better than nothing. I’ll let you know if I get the check.