Has modern customer service deteriorated?

Xenomorph

Member
John Lewis is a perfect case of what happens when you outsource your formerly excellent customer service to a bunch of muppets. They failed to grasp what damage was being caused for years and have now paid the price for all the lost customers and revenue.

These days I'd be quite happy to do it all via online chat. It's usually much quicker than having to phone someone up.

But anyone that has to deal with the self entitled morons that phone up everyday needs a medal.

Oak Furnitureland is another one that has outsourced delivery to Muppet Inc. to save a few pennies.
2 items recently ordered. 100% record of delivery screw up, including rolling a heavy item end over end, despite it being marked as 'Fragile, this way up'. Solid oak panel completely smashed.
 

Exomorphic

Active Member
It’s appalling these days. Going the overseas call centre, online booking system, online chat bot etc has removed the humanity. Automated systems do not resolve problems. Things that could be negotiated or enquired about easily are pushed out by systems and “press this button” options.

The pandemic had made it more visible and worsened it.

We aren’t customers to be served any more. We are consumers. It’s never been more obvious.
 

Xenomorph

Member
Sorry if I'm coming over as a whinging bastard here, but I genuinely think that poor CS needs to be highlighted, so they might actually take notice, and improve things.
I'm not asking for the world, just decent response to problems, and better service.
 
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Deleted member 897717

Guest
Sorry if I'm coming over as a whinging bastard here, but I genuinely think that poor CS needs to be highlighted, so they might actually take notice, and improve things.
I'm not asking for the world, just decent response to problems, and better service.

I sometimes wonder if there is a deliberate collective decision amongst some sectors of the economy for them all to set out to deliver crap CS...that way the Mrs X will go "elsewhere"...but give it a few years of Mrs X taking their custom from supplier to supplier and she'll be back where she started.

The people who run them probably buy each other a drink down the lodge or the golf club as a bonus for driving customers away and to each other...of course meanwhile the customer is driven insane by it. ;)
 

Tight Git

Distinguished Member
Some companies, BT for example, now make a big thing of their CS being based in the UK, having had so many complaints when they out-sourced it to India and nobody could understand a word they were saying.

And, no, I'm not being racist, as they couldn't understand my accent either.

In fact, I felt sorry for them having to work for a pittance in the middle of the night due to the time difference.
 

Graham27

Well-known Member
CS has got worse, but I believe it is due to cost-cutting because customers want low prices.
That’s exactly it.

As long as people keep filling in feedback forms with price rated as the most important factor, service will never be the priority.

Customers are also worse than they’ve ever been. There used to be an appreciation of ‘if you want the best service you have to pay for it’ but that’s out the window now too.

That said, if you take a customer service job you know what to expect, and you should tare a bit of pride in your work and try your best. I work in customer service management and training, and some of the attitudes of the staff are shocking. They think they’re doing us a favour.
 
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Deleted member 897791

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Miss C DeVille

Well-known Member
That’s exactly it.

As long as people keep filling in feedback forms with price rated as the most important factor, service will never be the priority.

Customers are also worse than they’ve ever been. There used to be an appreciation of ‘if you want the best service you have to pay for it’ but that’s out the window now too.

That said, if you take a customer service job you know what to expect, and you should tare a bit of pride in your work and try your best. I work in customer service management and training, and some of the attitudes of the staff are shocking. They think they’re doing us a favour.
It's all about getting money in the tills. Once they've got your money they wash their hands of you.
If you've got a problem with what you've bought they encourage you to buy a new one.
I used to work in retail...furniture stores...and one well known company I worked for had such dodgy sales practice and terrible customer service, that I left after a month. I couldn't face how they treated customers, and that was in more than one branch.
 

Tight Git

Distinguished Member
Not sure if this comes under Customer Service, but another cost cutter has been the delivery service.

We had an item of furniture from a large catalogue company delivered by the proverbial one man and a van.

When I refused to help him lift it (I'm 76) he rolled it end over end up our driveway and then left in haste before I could open the box.

Inevitably, I found it damaged and reported it to the company.

It was only a broken hinge, but they had no interest in a repair or replacement and simply refunded the purchase price, saying we could dispose of the cabinet as we wished.

Guess who happened to have a suitable hinge in the garage... :thumbsup:
 

PodJim

Active Member
After my time in CS I concluded a lot of the time it's nothing but a con or an elaborate time wasting exercise. I didn't feel in any way part of the company I was supposed to be the agent of, just somebody working in a unit, answering calls and making excuses for that company. It was self contained, it really felt like a separate business.
 

Buzzcrow

Well-known Member
I didn't realise how good I am on the phone until I found out my call to customer service may be used for training purposes.
 

Xenomorph

Member
Not sure if this comes under Customer Service, but another cost cutter has been the delivery service.

We had an item of furniture from a large catalogue company delivered by the proverbial one man and a van.

When I refused to help him lift it (I'm 76) he rolled it end over end up our driveway and then left in haste before I could open the box.

Inevitably, I found it damaged and reported it to the company.

It was only a broken hinge, but they had no interest in a repair or replacement and simply refunded the purchase price, saying we could dispose of the cabinet as we wished.

Guess who happened to have a suitable hinge in the garage... :thumbsup:

Look at post #28. Exactly same happened to me.
 

Graham27

Well-known Member
It's all about getting money in the tills. Once they've got your money they wash their hands of you.
If you've got a problem with what you've bought they encourage you to buy a new one.
I used to work in retail...furniture stores...and one well known company I worked for had such dodgy sales practice and terrible customer service, that I left after a month. I couldn't face how they treated customers, and that was in more than one branch.
Yeah, I’m sure thats the case in many places, but not really anywhere I’ve worked.

There are still some decent retailers out there, but they tend to be the ones that are struggling the most, as they need to pay well to attract decent staff, and therefore margins are slimmer... it’s a downward slope.

That said, my local B&Q pays £23k (+ extras) for a checkout operator and can’t even attract anyone.
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Not sure if this comes under Customer Service, but another cost cutter has been the delivery service.

We had an item of furniture from a large catalogue company delivered by the proverbial one man and a van.

When I refused to help him lift it (I'm 76) he rolled it end over end up our driveway and then left in haste before I could open the box.

Inevitably, I found it damaged and reported it to the company.

It was only a broken hinge, but they had no interest in a repair or replacement and simply refunded the purchase price, saying we could dispose of the cabinet as we wished.

Guess who happened to have a suitable hinge in the garage... :thumbsup:
That happened to me with two flat pack cabinets which came all the way from Germany. Both were damaged by MyHemes and like you company was not interested and refunded me which mean I was left with a load of very useful timber.
 

Miss C DeVille

Well-known Member
Yeah, I’m sure thats the case in many places, but not really anywhere I’ve worked.

There are still some decent retailers out there, but they tend to be the ones that are struggling the most, as they need to pay well to attract decent staff, and therefore margins are slimmer... it’s a downward slope.

That said, my local B&Q pays £23k (+ extras) for a checkout operator and can’t even attract anyone.
Luckily it was only the one company, that I worked for, that was like that.
I worked for another which had exceptional customer service, and I was proud to work for them. They treated their staff well too.
 

FavouredAntelope

Well-known Member
The truth is I don't think customer service is a thing for stuff like big utilities/ISPs. It just isn't a part of their business plan. Most people with a company like British Gas or Virgin Media (two prime examples of appalling customer service - the latter is just is so soul crushingly bad you almost have to admire the effort taken to create such an elaborate system of torture) have either inherited their accounts or are there because it is the obvious choice for their area.

To grow their customer base that big, they have severed any personal connection between the business and customers. No one can name their British Gas engineer or Virgin Media representative because that's not how it works. If you have a problem you are plunged into a labyrinthine call centre system and you will speak to ten different people, each of which have to re-learn your case (which they couldn't care less about) and has no authority to help. In Virgin's case, they make it so deliberately hard they hope you give up on your complaint. Maybe you become so miserable you leave, but it isn't worth their time to care about the 10% of people with problems. 90% of the time, something like internet or utilities just ticks over, and they have only been able to scale so large by ditching personal relationships with customers.
 

Tight Git

Distinguished Member
That said, my local B&Q pays £23k (+ extras) for a checkout operator and can’t even attract anyone.

Perhaps that's why my local B&Q installed a self-service checkout a couple of years ago.

However, it was so complicated that they had to staff it anyway to help people use it! :facepalm:
 

Miss C DeVille

Well-known Member
The truth is I don't think customer service is a thing for stuff like big utilities/ISPs. It just isn't a part of their business plan. Most people with a company like British Gas or Virgin Media (two prime examples of appalling customer service - the latter is just is so soul crushingly bad you almost have to admire the effort taken to create such an elaborate system of torture) have either inherited their accounts or are there because it is the obvious choice for their area.

To grow their customer base that big, they have severed any personal connection between the business and customers. No one can name their British Gas engineer or Virgin Media representative because that's not how it works. If you have a problem you are plunged into a labyrinthine call centre system and you will speak to ten different people, each of which have to re-learn your case (which they couldn't care less about) and has no authority to help. In Virgin's case, they make it so deliberately hard they hope you give up on your complaint. Maybe you become so miserable you leave, but it isn't worth their time to care about the 10% of people with problems. 90% of the time, something like internet or utilities just ticks over, and they have only been able to scale so large by ditching personal relationships with customers.
I get an Indian chap who keeps phoning me up saying my BT internet has stopped working. I hear from him a lot, so I learnt a few choice phrases in his language...but I don't think he's keen on me telling him he does something unsavoury to his sister 🙄
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
As others have said, price is king for 95%+ of transactions and so predominately companies cut corners in customer service to save costs to give the customers the lower price goods/services. Customer service is typically a horrible job to do, you're given minimal training and almost all that matters is hitting your KPIs.

I did 10 years in contact centres, though most were either as an escalated complaints team or technical subject and these were less concerned about hitting your 90 second AHT or 20 second wrap etc.

What has shocked me recently is how bad the escalated complaints teams have become...

JohnLewis - defective freezer destroyed contents (three times), asked me to prove the law covers consequential damage so quoted the relevant statute... got a reply back saying "no that's supposed to cover things like if it had damaged your worktop and doesn't cover food". Asked them to quote the relevant statute where this differential was made and they said I should pay for legal advice instead.... county court sorted that one.

Virgin - instructed by staff to get a second covid test due to flights being rescheduled and they'd refund. Submitted receipts via complaints team as told and was told that the EC directive doesn't cover this type of expense so its my loss. After 2 more attempts went to the Exec team and they said they'd listened to the call and a refund was in the post.

BA - were unable to reuse our prepaid seat bookings, agent said they'd been lost due to the previous agent. Put complaint in, complaints team said the last agent was wrong and the seat books were there and didn't know why we couldn't book online but actually despite the wrong information and system error Complaints cannot deal with it and it'll have to go to refunds who'll check against the T&Cs to see if we can get a refund.
 

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