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August 12, 2021

The reasons customer service is so bad

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

You don’t need me here to tell you customer service, in 2009, generally stinks.

We talk about it a lot in this forum. The results are mixed, but for every “I had a great experience with company X’s customer service rep,” there are ten “The guy pretty much told me to where to shove my broken cell phone and then admitted he had plans in the works to beat up my three-year-old daughter.”

But everyone just assumes customer service reps are blood-sucking leaches that live in damp caves, feast on puppy brains and watch the “Smiley” scene from American History X  on a constant loop.

Jay Goltz over at the New York Times has other thoughts on the matter, though. Apparently, the reason why customer service quality has dipped over the years is more scientific than we think.

Goltz gives three explanations to back his claim, beginning with health insurance.

The cost of health insurance has spiked to the point that companies now can’t afford to hire as many full-time staffers. “It is difficult enough to train full-time people,” he writes. “Having (workers) there part-time and having a huge turnover makes it all the more difficult.”

Another reason is retail pricing, he says. In place of the traditional ‘four sales a year to move stale product and get the business name out there,’ now there are typically insane, Lastman’s Bad Boy-esque fire sales every other week. This wreaks “havoc” on customer service. “When the sale is on, you don’t have enough staff,” Goltz says. “When the sale is off, the staff stands around and complains about the slow business.”

The last cause for the CS quality dip is a pretty broad sociological stroke, but it seems to ring true. Goltz notes the endangerment of the generational merchant – the retail man who learned from his father, the salesman, and his father before him – and a possible case of business leaders becoming over-educated.

How many retail bosses these days worked their way up from the sales floor or learned the trade as a little boy running around their parents’ shop? Goltz says we “see it all the time in big business,” a case of a big company buying a little company and hacking it to bits to widen profit margins, presuming the customer won’t notice.

“But the customers do notice,” he writes. “When you walk into a store, and there is virtually no help, it’s because someone figured out that the company could save X dollars if it cut back the labour budget by 7 percent. When you walk out disgusted and sales go down, the store blames it on the economy or brutal competition.

“Business is not that complicated,” he continues. “Take good care of customers and they will come back and send their friends.”



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