Why Your Customer Service Sucks

Have you ever made an appointment to have an appliance delivered only to be told your delivery will be late? Have you ever dropped off your car for service only to be given the run around on when your car will be ready?

These were two personal experiences I had recently. Now, the customer service representative was not bad. They were professional. They did their best. They tried to help.

The service was terrible because the representatives were not empowered. They had little authority outside of their script to take action and make an otherwise upset customer into a champion. I have come to understand that many retail organizations are still operating from an ancient customer service playbook.

This is a situation where the retail chain gives the representatives a script to follow. This is not only a disservice to the customer but to the representative, who if given the opportunity could more than likely dissolve most customer issues.

I am a fan of what Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos has built – an influential culture of customer service. In Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness” Tony talks about what makes the culture at Zappos customer focused:

  • Pay new employees $2000 to quit.
  • Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company, not just a department.
  • Focus on company culture as the #1 priority.
  • Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business.
  • Help employees grow both personally and professionally.
  • Seek to change the world.
  • Oh, and make money too.

“There is nothing I can do. You have to deal with the store you’re having issues with.”* This was the response I received while dealing with an automobile manufacturer.

I am not expecting every company to become a carbon copy Zappos. But perhaps every company should focus on – making customer service the responsibility of the entire company, not just a department.

If every company made that small pivot, what would your culture shift look like? How would that improve your bottom line? Your social presence? And your position in the market?

Positively? Yes.