What’s wrong with customer services?

We are hearing more and more stories about poor service – why?

It doesn’t matter if your turnover is £1 or £100 Million Pounds, we know good customer service is paramount for any company. So, what's gone wrong?

Here at CDSM we believe that every instance of customer service should be:

  • Friendly
  • Knowledgeable
  • Responsive
  • Quick
  • Personal
  • Awesome

Customers are the lifeblood of any business so treating them well should be a company’s top priority. Would you recommend a company that has provided a poor service? I know I wouldn’t.

News of bad customer service reaches twice as many people compared to someone sharing news of a good service they have received.

I would like to share a recent experience with you. My colleagues and I arrived at our Birmingham hotel at 9pm. We had been preparing our thinqi stand for the World of Learning Show so with booking confirmation in hand we were ready to check in and get a good night’s sleep.

The receptionist checked our booking, but only found one on the system. Okay, we thought, no problem, they’ll just allocate some additional rooms. Unfortunately, Justin Bieber (you may have heard of him) was in concert that night - and all the rooms were fully booked. No hope of any fanboys/girls cancelling and no hope of a good night's sleep.

20 Minutes

Feeling positive that Hotels.com will sort out their mistake. I called the UK phone number and was connected to a US call centre. The agent took all my details and said she needed to transfer me to reservations to find alternative accommodation. I had been on the phone for twenty minutes so I asked,

“Please could you pass over my information? I really don’t want to have to explain all this again.” “No problem Ma’am”, was the last thing I heard. Next thing I heard was the ringtone followed by, “Good Evening, how can I help you today?”

40 Minutes

I had been transferred to the wrong department! I was back at the beginning. Square one! After another twenty minutes I was ready for reservations - again.

95 Minutes

We still didn't have a room for the night. After fifteen more minutes of the agents ‘help’, I was offered a one bedroom apartment in centre of Birmingham for the two of us to share. As we are work colleagues this was obviously an inappropriate suggestion, although it took the agent a while to understand why. I asked them to widen the search. After another thirty minutes, we were offered two rooms at the Crowne Plaza hotel near the NEC. Bonus! We thought. Just another ten minutes to confirm the swap and our booking was confirmed. Yay! Time for some food.

145 Minutes

Thirty minutes (and minus £30) taxi to the NEC. How we laughed on the way over. How we smirked at our ‘luck’ - walking distance to the show. How we giggled at the extra hour’s sleep as a result! All thoughts about camping at the NEC drifted away into the cold Birmigham air. With one final phone call to our Managing Director (he was very concerned about us) we signed off for the night.

Midnight. Quick check-in and we should be in bed in twenty minutes.

“Evening, how can I help you?” I’m feeling a little smug at this point, the hotel looked great, “Evening, we have two rooms booked for tonight” “Sorry Madam, there is no booking for you.”

Smugness obliterated. Back to square one. Back on the phone to Hotels.com. Twenty minutes ‘detail checking’ ceremony - again. I’m placed on hold while they phoned the Crowne Plaza to check my story.

“Ah yes Ma’am they don’t have any rooms.” “I know! I’m standing in the lobby!” “I’ll connect you to reservations.” “No, please don’t do thaaaa…...” - click.

160 Minutes

Meanwhile my colleague had found two rooms in a local manor. It was 1am, so we grabbed another taxi. Back on the phone,

“Ma’am I am trying to find you two rooms, you may need to travel twenty miles though.” I informed the agent that we’d now found two rooms and asked if they could issue a refund. “That’s not possible ma’am, I need to make the reservations for you.” They didn’t have a brilliant track record here, so I asked them to cancel the booking. “I cannot cancel your bookings, you just need to be patient with us.” Patient? I had been on the phone for over two and a half hours.

“Please don’t put me on hold again!” “Just putting you on hold.” “Please don’t put me on hold!” Hold music. “Ma’am I can refund you one night, you need to call at 8am so we can find you rooms for tomorrow night.”

200 Minutes

I was finally refunded, plus $50 to cover the taxi fares. Dollars? I argued the point. The offer then went up to $100. Dollars!? “Do you mean £100?” I was trying to stay calm but it was 2am.

No customer should receive the service I received that night. I didn’t once feel valued. I felt like a number in system and not someone who had spent significant sums with them over a number of years. Which leads me to believe that it’s the personal touch that vanishing from our industry and the reason why I hear so many stories of poor customer service. As the Customer Service Manager here at CDSM, I can guarantee that it’s that personal touch that will always be part of our service ethos. In fact it’s one of our unique selling points that I’ll never allow to disappear.

You can read our Dos and Don'ts of Customer Service in this CDSM infographic. While researching this blog I also stumbled across this page of statistics about customer service. It’s also well worth a read.