Monday, September 30, 2013

Customer Service Ain't What It Used To Be

The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be.

I'm willing to bet there hasn't been a huge increase in customer service jobs over the last few years. I would think that many jobs have gone away in that field. Instead they've moved over to software companies coming up with ways to improve our life and make computers more efficient.  In the past people took care of people. Now we program computers to do it. Advancements in technology have certainly made life easier in some ways  but in other ways it's caused a few more hiccups.

operatorIt used to be if we called a business, we got a friendly customer service representative.  Now we're usually greeted with a recording. I'm sure everyone has been greeted with the same recording.  It gives instructions on what numbers to punch to get where you want to go.  Computers sort you into a queue and move you along from  one computer to another.  That's not necessarily bad in itself but for us it's not necessarily good either.

Some companies are a little more advanced than just having you punch in numbers.  These companies have provided a voice activated computer to make it easier for you.  We all know voice recognition software is far from perfect.  It seems half the time the computer doesn't understand what's being said and after being told more than once to repeat an answer, frustration sets in.  However, if you're really lucky, the computer gives up and you're eventually transferred to a live person.    I'm sure you've talked to this person.  He lives in India and speaks in broken English..  Now instead of the computer not understanding what you're saying, you're the one who has trouble understanding. Sound familiar? This is just one more advancement in providing you with good customer service.

cashier2Ever taken the time to count the screens or menus on a phone call until you finally get where you want to be? Sometimes you can press “0” to get to an English speaking person but many companies have learned that trick too.  They don’t allow it because the person who normally held that position no longer works there..

Since companies don't really want you calling them, finding contact information off their website can at times be challenging.  The good thing though is that if you search long enough you can probably find an email address or a chat line.  Neither of those are really ideal especially when you understand that the person on the chat line helping you also is trying to help a few others at the same time. This may have decreased overhead for the company but it sure changed their customer service too..

waitressIf you are lucky enough to find an email to write to, it’s not uncommon to get an automatic email back letting you know your message was received and it's important to them.  As a matter of fact, it's so important that they will have a representative get back to you within 24 hours or maybe it’s 48 hours. I was told by Newegg a representative would get back to me within an hour.  It was about 72 hours later that I received that return call.

Sometimes we don’t need a phone.  Sometimes we just need a person.   How many times have you been in line at a grocery store or any other retail store to discover when it's your turn the cashier is so deep in conversation with someone else that he doesn't even acknowledge you’re there?  How many times have you gone through check-out without the cashier even speaking to you? Sometimes it's just faster to do it yourself.  We've been trained to do the job of a cashier.

What about customer service at a restaurant?  Waitress’ work for tips.  If you get good service, you’re expected to leave a good tip.  You’re actually expected to leave a tip whether the service is good or not.   Good service enhances your dining experience and poor service can ruin it. We know people who leave a standard dollar or two regardless of the service or the cost of the meal and others who will tip well over 20%.  Where do you fit in?


I definitely think “The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be" and neither is customer service.

‘Tis life on the road


  1. I find the best customer service we get is still in small town America. The waitress we had in Hawthorne couldn't have been more pleasant or more helpful. What a joy. But customer service on the phone just doesn't happen. I get so frustrated that I often give up and give Jim the phone. He has much more patience than I do. At least when they come on the line (if ever) he isn't snarling at them.

  2. I was owner operator of my restaurant for 10 years and good customer service is a must. Good tips and returning business is essential in a small business and small town where we lived.
    I do tip extremely well for good service and expect it.
    As for customer service on the phone ? Well I don't do well on the phone because of my hearing loss so that very rarely even happens.

  3. as a friend of mine once said... Americans are putting the cuss back in customer service...

  4. We just got new cell phones at Best Buy and had a great service person. We got Sansung phones and got the geek squad insurance. The computer we bought last December is a Windows 8. Still getting used to it. Had to take it to Geek Squad to get it to use my printer and they were very good.

  5. Customer service? What's that? I've been giving serious thought to only traveling on weekdays. Heaven forbid I have a breakdown on the weekend. Who knows how long it would take to get help or parts.

    I have begun to notice many businesses that advertise they are open 24/7/365 are closed up tight at 3 or 4 PM.

    What's the answer. I'm sure I won't find it by pressing "0". :c(

  6. Here is an app I downloaded for my iPhone...Fast Customer. Here is a review

    **"Top 10 Smart-phone App of 2011" - TIME Magazine**

    Hate waiting on hold for customer service? Then don't!

    With a single tap, we navigate the phone tree to whichever department you need -- like tech support or billing -- then ring your phone once we've got an agent on the line.

    Featured on NBC, CBS, ABCNews, NYT, WIRED Magazine, The Washington Post and many more. See all at

    Pretty cool app. They have it for just about any phone type. Give it a try.

  7. I agree that customer service is not what it used to be. However, if you think it is bad here, travel to just about any other country and you will be remembering service here fondly:( I count myself lucky for keeping from strangling multiple service folks in France-with Paris at the top( or maybe that's the bottom) of the list.

  8. I always push 0 to see if it works. :)

    I laughed at heyduke's comment but it is oh so true.


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