Customer Service: How It Shouldn’t Be
Every month I glance through my online bank statement to review debits and credits and make sure everything looks the way it’s supposed to. Recently, I noticed an unusual $9 fee charged to my account, with no explanation or description provided. Curious, I decided to call up my (very well known) bank to inquire about the fee. Still logged in to my account online, I found the customer service number. I went through numerous call prompts, finally connecting with an agent, and told her the reason for my call. She said she would need to pull up my account and asked for my account number, which I provided. Then she asked for the last 4 of my social and most recent address. I gave both to her but she told me that wasn’t the correct address. As I started asking about the address she had, she cut me off mid-sentence to say that she couldn’t help me anyway because my account isn’t based in California. I was polite but confused as I told her that I thought I was calling the main customer service number and also that I DO live in California. Her tone turned from normal to testy, and she told me I would have to call the customer service department of which my account is based out of to find out more (I have lived in California for 6 years but opened up my account in another state 9 years ago). I asked for the number and she simply said that it “should” be on the back of my debit card. I thanked her and hung up.
After pulling out my debit card, I picked up the phone again. For the second time, I went through the numerous dial prompts and finally reached a customer service agent. I explained the reason for my call and she verified my address, which in her system was correct, and phone number, which was wrong. My patience was wearing a bit thin as it all seemed a bit too complicated, as I first asked why the other agent would have the wrong information on file. Her answer didn’t really give me warm fuzzy feelings as she said “I don’t know.” I also told her the phone number she verified was an emergency number (to my parents) and my main number has not changed in at least 10 years. She told me she would update it. Afterward, we discussed the $9 fee which was the original reason for my call, and I hung up.
I know that a lot of people have experienced a customer service situation like this: you can’t easily get your questions answered and it really feels like you’re jumping through hoops. I also had the overwhelming (and uncomfortable) feeling that the agents on the phone really didn’t know what they were talking about. This may be untrue, however the inconsistency of information combined with the impression that they weren’t really interested in helping left me with a feeling of annoyance – and of taking my business elsewhere.
Regardless of the size of the company, customer service is extremely important. All customers want to feel valued. During my calls, I did not feel as though my business was important. I was not thanked for being a customer, for my time, or anything…. The agents seemed robotic and impersonal.
Also, I did not feel heard. If your customer service department isn’t effectively listening to clients, it is a huge problem. During my experience, I felt very unheard–the agents did not take the time to let me finish my sentence or properly address my concerns, nor provide me with thorough information. I did not expect them to have every answer (although that would have been amazing!), but I did expect them to have a relative understanding of my account and my needs as a customer.
I also felt like having been a customer for so long, it actually worked to my disadvantage. My account information was wrong and made it more complicated. It should be the goal of companies to provide their services in such a way that will encourage customers to continue giving them their business.
It’s also important to have simple procedures in place. Not every question can be handled on the first call, but there are certainly a few things that should be straightforward. I’m still not sure why the wrong customer service number was listed on my online account or why the first agent I spoke with didn’t (or couldn’t) provide me with the correct number. I also could not figure out why the two agents had different information on file for me. One of the reasons I have stayed with this bank for so long is because of their many locations, but now I am doubting if this even works to my advantage. An experience with the customer service department at your company should not leave the customer with doubts.
I have worked in sales and customer service for quite a while, so I understand that not every call will be perfect. However, there are certain guidelines that companies should adhere to. If your company doesn’t have a solid foundation of procedures, you are likely losing out effective communication with your customers and therefore, their business. CRM can drastically benefit the interactions that you have with your customers. The call, the email, the sale is about them …. Be honest, communicate, and show them their value. Have up to date information on file. Be as helpful as possible. By having a CRM in place at your company, all agents can update contact information, sync emails, log calls, and make notes, which provides a huge advantage and gives the customer those “warm fuzzy” feelings when the customer service agent can be proactive. Of course, it’s important to update and maintain the information within the CRM and make sure staff is invested in using it. They need to be trained and supported in case there are any questions or problems. An out of date system or one that cannot grow with your company is not going to make a positive impact.
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