Monday, March 26, 2012

Customer Service is Dead

The art of customer service is dead. It used to be that you could drive up to a service station and the sound of a bell would bring someone out to pump your gas, check the oil, and wash the windshield. These days, you pump your own gas and you’re lucky if you find a squeegee in good enough condition to clean off the bugs. But it’s not just there. There was a time when writing a letter to the company would result in a nicely written response with a couple of coupons in the envelope. Often, one of them would provide you with a free replacement of the product you were writing about. These days, writing a letter won’t gain you a form letter response, much less coupons. Over the past couple of years, I have written a few letters to various companies. Typically, they were letters expressing dissatisfaction with one thing or another. Some of these letters were e-mail. Some of these letters were handwritten. Many months have passed since I sent some of these letters and in many cases, I have received no response.

Authors often complain because literary agents don’t respond to queries. Literary agents counter by saying, “you aren’t my customer, so why should I respond?” These too is an indication that the art of customer service is dead. Customer service is not about putting a statement in your advertising that says you have good customer service. Customer service is about respect for people. How you treat people when they aren’t your customer or when they think they don’t want to be your customer is more important than how you treat people when they are satisfied with you. If you treat people with respect when you aren’t sure they will ever bring you money, you are much more likely to win them over and they will begin to help you. So many people just don’t seem to get that.