Customer Service — Easier Said Than Done

Posted on December 1, 2010

Earlier today I sat in the boardroom of a mid-size financial institution to discuss website design for lead generation.  One of the topics raised was the use of live chat as a deterrent to web page abandonment.  Of specific concern was whether or not an outside vendor (e.g. Live Person) could effectively answer financial services questions as effective as internal hosted chat with real financial experts.  Similarly, for call center functions — can an external vendor provide satisfactory customer support if they cannot access a customer’s confidential financial records in the first place?

Fast-forwarding to this evening, I received an email from eBay regarding a disputed matter I am attempting to resolve with an item I purchased.  Though their email was from a US-based customer support rep named Ashley, the person I ended up talking to on the phone had an accent that was most likely from New Dehli.   After 40 minutes on the phone (and being placed on hold three times), the call center representative was not able to access information about my transaction to resolve the issue.  I was then transferred to another representative with a Bangalore accent and then was promptly cut off (lost connection).

By 8pm I was experiencing both anger and laughter (triggered by visualizing those zany Indian call center reps on my new favorite TV comedy “Outsourced”).   Ironically, the very issue of call center competency plays out with a multi-billion dollar international company (eBay).

I would invite your comments to this post — but I am convinced that a brand inflicts more damage on itself by masquerading help (in the form of customer service) but then failing to equip the representatives with the information or decision making to actually resolve the customer’s problem.

If a customer is already mad as hell — what good is it to waste another hour of their time to end up where they started?

Who knows — a few of them may actually blog 🙂


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