Two recent examples of completely failed customer service. Mistakes that just shouldn’t happen
I’m a consumer. I also own a business, and as a consultant and in my work in big corporations, I’ve always felt that good customer service is the trademark of a great company. Here are two recent examples of just how horribly wrong things can go when companies get the basics wrong. Customer service isn’t just about being polite to customers, particularly not when you basically tell them to “go fuck yourself”. Customer service is about making doing business with you as easy as possible. Whatever internal procedures you have shouldn’t matter to the customer, ever.
Recently, we had an optic fiber drawn to our house. Six months late, due to the difficult topographic reality on our island, but we finally got the small fiber cable drawn into our house and a couple hours later, we were online. Faster than ever before.
But it wasn’t an easy process. Several years ago, before fiber was on the menu, I was looking for a faster connection for us. The only thing available and that would guarantee us a certain speed was a corporate deal. Telia, Sweden’s state controlled telecommunication giant would not sell guaranteed speeds to households, and at slow speeds, you wouldn’t be able to watch TV online or stream movies.
We were forced into an expensive corporate agreement. Six months ago, when the fiber installation (to us as as consumers and owners of the house) was imminent, I was contacted Telia to sell me their solutions. Naturally, I asked when I’d have to cancel my DSL to avoid having to pay for TWO services from the same company when I only really needed one. I’ve always been up front and open, and to make sure things would go smoothly, I chose their solution right there and then in September for our fiber cable, even though many other suppliers are significantly cheaper, and 250 Mbits/s really is the same, no matter who invoices you for it.
Last week, when things were finally ready, I hit a wall. Suddenly, consumer and business were separated by firewalls and one would not assume responsibility for the other, and I was asked to talk to this and that department, constantly forwarded, ending up in long queues on the phone. It took me a good two hours of explaining, complaining and nagging to get out of my contract next month, something I had been promised last fall would be “easy” and “of course”. But I guess that girl just wanted to make her sales quota. As a customer, I don’t care how Telia is organized. I don’t care what department I deal with. All I care about is that the name of the company is the same. They better solve their internal issues where they belong: internally. Don’t blame the consumer, the customer (no matter whether they are corporate or a consumer). Yesterday, my neighbor, who got his fiber the same day, visited Telia’s store downtown to make his selection. The sales person in the store had no clue what fiber was or how to select services, so instead, he mentioned that he’d talk to a colleague from customer service who was in a small back office behind the store. He emerged a few minutes later explaining that she couldn’t come out to talk to my neighbor because – hear this – she wasn’t dressed for it! Instead, they asked my neighbor to e-mail or call her, even though she sat feet away from him! I rest my case. #facepalm
The second example is even more “crazy”. When we renovated our house fifteen years ago, we bought a side-by-side fridge/freezer from LG Electronics. It was a new thing back then, it didn’t fit the standard size kitchen appliances commonly used in Sweden. But it was great: built in ice machine, water dispenser and a great small door in the fridge to access juices. We love our fridge. Sadly, this weekend we realized that the freezer is on its last leg and we discussed to replace it. Since we love our LG appliances, we went to their Swedish website and quickly found our new appliance.
On the LG website you can’t find any information, whatsoever, about where to buy their stuff… The company from which we’d bought our fridge in 2002 doesn’t exist anymore. So I called LG yesterday, only to learn that they couldn’t help me. They were only a support team, not a sales team. The girl told me (I’m not joking) to “google” for sales outlets, and that maybe, the big chains like Elgiganten and MediaMarkt might be selling their products.
Let me say this again: LG Electronics has NO information, NONE whatsoever, about their resellers. No lists, no maps, no way to locate where to buy their, mind you, great products. #facepalm
Later, after contacts with their Facebook page (a tad more responsive, but still very slow compared to other companies, including Telia) I was also told that Elon and Elgiganten would be able to order our fridge directly from LG and deliver it to me. But they also said that these chains purchase through distribution and that it was up to them to decide what they sell. And if you don’t sell a product on a certain market, why advertise in on your website? It just makes no sense. It’s like Apple advertising the iPhone 9… #facepalm
Needless to say, we were not able to buy our fridge from LG. Neither Elon nor Elgiganten were able to purchase it. We’re not talking “willing”, no, they were unable! Elon even told me that hadn’t done business with LG for seven years, yet LG still tells customers to turn to them! Loss from one customer: almost three thousand dollars. I can only imagine how many such deals LG Electronics loses every day…
How do companies survive like that? How can a company ask the consumer (and appliances are – after all – primarily consumer products) to go look for where to buy their products? I’m still stunned. We did end up purchasing a competitor’s product, not nearly what we wanted, but at least they know how to sell their stuff.
My question to Telia and LG Electronics: are you so fat, so complacent and satisfied that you no longer care about your customers? Is customer service irrelevant to you? It would be nice to hear from those companies, but I guess that’s too much to ask for. I’ve heard a lot of excuses and explanations that don’t explain anything.