Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Customer Service Fail

I feel like I do my best to get along with customer service people on the other end of the phone. I spend a good amount of time answering customer service questions and complaints here at Leisure Arts. We have good customer service: they are very easy to understand (but no one drawls like I do, thank you very much), they actually are technical experts in that they do what you are calling in to ask about, and they genuinely want to help. The fact is, very often they were also the writers responsible in the beginning (and are currently trying to produce more books while also answering calls and a few, several, many other things). Calls normally fall into three categories. The two largest are "I don't understand" and "I started this cross stitch piece for my daughter in 1982 but didn't finish it. Now I'd like to finish it for the baby on the way but I can't find the chart. It has a bear on it. Can you help?"

Needle, meet haystack.

But we do our best to find the needle.

And then there's the third category, the "Yes, we made a mistake" category. These messages often end with something like "Don't you people know how to proofread?" And we do. And we produce pages and pages and pages and pages of error-free instructions because we proofread over and over. And over. But occasionally, we make mistakes. And Cheryl (that's me) flips. out. every. time. But then all we can do is apologize most of the time and try to fix the mistake in the next round of printing.

So, knowing all that, I try to be reasonable when I call for help. I bought a colorNook with the help of a very nice gift card and I was very excited about it. Until I tried to set it up. And then I searched the internet to find out lots of people had trouble setting it up. Figuring I'm not a real technical wiz and following the advice of the technical person on the Barnes and Noble forum, I called in. I spoke to someone...a male...I never understood his name. I don't believe he was in the continental US or any of its territories. I explained my problem over and over and over. And over. And it's the same problem that you see in the forums: my wireless will connect but I have no internet service.

What's his name told me I'd just have to call my internet provider because the Nook was working. And then I got mad because my internet provider doesn't have a Nook, is not a fly by night company, and I'm sure they've had other AT&T customers call in with connectivity problems. I explained to him what a waste of time my call was. The end.

I called AT&T, knowing in my heart it was a waste of time. And it was. They don't have a Nook. Do I believe I'm the first person to call in with a problem? No. But I do sort of think Barnes and Noble should have had the answer. They gave me a pay service number to call. I haven't done that yet.

And then days later, I think it was 4, Barnes and Noble replied to the email I originally sent with a pretty non-concilatory email demanding serial numbers and credit card digits and more before they could address my question in any way. There was no hint of the customer ever being right in their message. Really? Why is this so hard?

I haven't answered it yet but I really do understand why the agitation level is already so high when customers contact us. Customer service just really isn't what it used to be.

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