Product Loyalty and Customer Service
I grew up in an era where customer loyalty and customer service actually meant something. There was product reliability and people would actually go to battle over whose vehicle or soda was best. A Ford man was always a Ford man, and a Chevy guy wouldn’t be caught dead even riding in a Ford. Coke and Pepsi drinkers only came together when they had to battle Mountain Dew drinkers and Dr Pepper fanatics, and we won’t even talk about Sprite and 7-Up.
But now cars and trucks all look the same, they get their parts from China and Mexico. Half of their parts are interchangeable, and they all look like my grandkids created them out of Legos. I couldn’t tell you which one is Ford, and which is Chevy and I drive a KIA.
If, heaven forbid you have a problem with anything from your air fryer to your internet, you can’t call anyone and ask for help, you get an automated response or an advance technology operator, but no humans, sorry. Oh, and what you need, isn’t on their menu list.
I recently made the mistake of calling Century Link to ask about my bill. There were somethings on there I didn’t understand and while I was actually talking to a human, a rare occurrence, I wanted to see about lowering my bill. I was informed that I couldn’t lower my bill. That was confusing. I mean, I had extra stuff added because my husband was on call for years with Highway Patrol and now that he’s off rotation we don’t need all those bells and whistles, plus I’d added stuff when my son was overseas so I could make overseas calls and…what did he mean, I couldn’t lower my bill? I wasn’t under contract. I’d had this account for eleven years. I’d had this phone number for nearly thirty years. I have been a customer for almost forty years and what, nothing. Not, I’m sorry ma’am but if we lower your bill, you’ll lose blah*blah* and blah. No, nothing. I said, okay, thank you, I’ll have to check with Spectrum, and they said, okay. They didn’t want to keep a customer who really didn’t want to leave but was just trying to get their bill down to a reasonable amount. They didn’t care. Heck, he could have offered me $10 off and I’d have stayed. Just because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of changing but no, that’s not what happened.
So, I called Spectrum and set things up for August 3rd, my next day off that wasn’t planned and the nice young woman I spoke to said not to call Century Link myself or they might turn things off too soon and we might lose the chance to keep the number. Two days later, July 22nd, I lost my internet. I didn’t think it’d been cut off. No. I thought the internet was down. They have been working on light poles and stuff around town and I just thought they’d done something to the internet. In fact, my husband asked if we’d had internet at work. I did but that means little it could have been a different leg like the electricity. I called. I get a robo operator. The menu items listed are not ‘is your internet out’, but there was one for repair. I punched that one. And I looped around about a dozen times with Mr. Robo Operator because they can’t just answer your questions, they send your around in circles. I ended up in billing. I didn’t owe anything but I’d paid with check so they may not have received it yet. Then they couldn’t accept my request, then they finally agreed to text me on my cell phone. By that time, I was exhausted and went to bed.
The next morning started out the same way until the technician finally started texting me and he discovered I’d been disconnected. He agreed to get me reconnected and I thought by Monday we should be back online. Not a problem. Nope. We didn’t get put back on Monday. Now, they did not have to come out and disconnect anything. They did it all from the comfort of their office but when my husband got home Monday in time to call, he found out the earliest they could reconnect us was August 1st. We are changing to Spectrum August 3rd. Yeah, we’re really happy with Century Link now.
You know, I remember Ma Bell, when my aunt was a telephone operator in New Bern. I even picketed with her once back when I was a teenager. When they were planning to go automated. There was a time when you place a phone call and someone, a real someone would help you patch it through across the world. They were there if you picked up the phone and asked for help. What happened to us? Are we more interested in getting it faster with automation or having that caring person on the line? Isn’t it possible to have a little of both? When did companies quit caring about their customers? It’s like they’ve become too big to care about the little guy down here.
Maybe I’m old school, I believe in loyalty and service. We should do our best to give a good product and good service whether we are authors or janitors, a car dealership or an internet provider. You treat your customers like they matter, like you want their business. Everyone who comes into your store or to your website or calls on the phone should be treated as guests…at least that’s the way I was trained. I don’t think it’s the same anymore. I hope my readers know how much they are appreciated and respected, that I do nothing to make them feel they are not wanted. While every product isn’t for everyone, I’ll always be a Pepsi drinker and I will always love a Ford Mustang, we can always be kind even as we decline to do business together.
Rant over. Maybe I’ll have better news soon. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your customer experiences both good and bad. One good thing came of this, I learned how to use my hotspot on my cell phone. There’s always a bright side to everything.