January 22, 2009
Customer service multiple choice
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

1. A toy table is advertised as having "detachable legs," so that it can be used both by crawling infants and by toddlers who've progressed to uprightness. My friend attaches one to see how it works, then tries to detach it so it can lay flat for her infant. She can't figure it out how to detach it, and calls customer service. All of the following are true EXCEPT:

a) Customer service rep. explains "Because of safety concerns, the leg does not detach."

b) Supervisor of customer service rep. explains "Because of safety concerns, the leg does not detach."

c) Friend is advised: "Find a box to fit the table with the one leg attached. Mail it back. Then we'll send you a new one."

d) Customer service rep. explains how to detach the leg

Answer: d)

2. I receive a call notifying me that a snowsuit ordered for my daughter was unavailable in the color advertised, although clearly marked as "available" on the website. What result?

a) Customer service apologizes, asks if another color will do.

b) Customer service rep. apologizes, asks if another color will do, and offers some recompense for my inconvenience and delay.

c) Customer service rep. apologizes, and when prodded, offers to refund the shipping charge as a small recompense for my inconvenience and delay.

Answer: c)

3. My parents, who are in their 70s, have a contract with Sears Home Maintenance covering their major appliances. Their furnace breaks on December 15th. All of the following are true EXCEPT: 

a) Sears orders the wrong part on 3 separate occasions.

b)  My parents and I spend hours on hold or explaining to customer service reps and their supervisors complaining and requesting help, to no avail.

c)  I am told that that nothing can be done to schedule the (3rd) visit any earlier, despite 3 WEEKS without heat in the dead of winter.

d) After an irate call to Sears Holding Company (Sears' parent company) informing SHC that I am a lawyer, a blogger, and concerned that the only thing that can explain my parents' treatment is discrimination, my parents' furnace is fixed within 24 hours.

e)  Sears honors the contract by fixing the furnace in a timely manner.

Answer: e)

I know, I know, the economy is bad, companies are cutting costs right and left. But aren't these shoddy customer relations practices the sort of short-sighted thinking that got us into this financial mess in the first place?

Here's a bonus question: At the tail end of a Saturday morning of errands, I leave my husband and daughter in the car while I dash into Chik-Fil-A. The plan is to give 15 month-old Cara her first taste of the chain's tasty signature fried chicken sandwich before getting her down for a nap. We would all share in a large box of fries. We arrive home to disappointment: the wrong bag, containing a grilled (shudder) chicken sandwich and a SMALL waffle fries. I call the Chik-Fil-A to complain. What result?

a) I'm put on hold for 10 minutes and hang up in disgust.

b) I get through to the drive through, who has no idea what I'm talking about.

c) Chik-Fil-A offers to refund my money if I bring back the grilled sandwich and fries. Well, but the fries were hot and crispy, even if there weren't enough of them...

d) I start to identify myself as the victim of a mix-up earlier today, but they know exactly who I am and what the problem is. They offer to make me up a new sandwich, but I explain about Cara's nap. They promise to send me coupons in the mail. I'm skeptical ("the coupons are in the mail"), but agree. In 3 days' time, coupons for more than the value of my original order--including a kids' meal for Cara--arrive, along with a handwritten note of apology.

Answer: d). One company takes a potential customer service problem and turns it into a good experience. How hard is that?

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