What Happened to Customer Service?

I really have no idea, but customer service, that standard given to customers by proprietors of businesses, has gone straight through the floor in recent years.  There was a time when Nordstrom-level of service was the goal, today, far too many companies just don’t care anymore and that struck home twice in recent days.

About a month ago, we had a terrible windstorm here, with sustained winds above 60mph and gusts topping 75mph.  Now it’s a windy area, we get high wind warnings a couple of times a month, but this was just absurd.  We were losing shingles off of the roof left and right, we just sat in the house and watched them come flying down in the back yard.  Half of the houses in the neighborhood were similarly affected.

So we called our insurance agent and filed a claim, which is certainly covered by our policy.  This whole thing happened the day before we went on vacation, we told him we’d be back Monday and to have the policy adjuster give us a call then.  So far, so good.  Of course, we like our agent, he’s an old family friend from way back, so we expect him to give us good service.

Then the problems started.  The adjuster didn’t call on Monday so we called him and left a message.  We didn’t hear Tuesday.  Or Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  We called each day and left another message because they are supposed to call you back within 24 hours.  It never happened.  We finally heard back on Friday and he said he’d send out someone to look at the roof and give an estimate.

That didn’t happen either.  By the next Wednesday, we were calling him back and, of course, he wasn’t returning our calls.  It took us until the next week to hear from him again and he again promised to get a roofer out to us.  Crickets.  Nothing happened.  This is almost 2 weeks since the damage and we were getting no satisfaction.  And this is a major insurer, not some fly-by-night outfit.  So we called our agent and complained and he said that if we hadn’t heard from  the adjuster by the following Monday, he was going over his head to his supervisor.  Our agent said we could just get a local roofer to come out and give us an estimate so that’s what we did.  My brother-in-law had just put a new roof on his house, so we got the e-mail of the roofer and sent him a message.

Now hold on to your hats because this will be a real surprise.  We didn’t hear from the roofer.  Not at all, even though I provided both an e-mail and phone contact number.  Not a peep.  I called another roofer, who I got ahold of and made an appointment with, but guess what?  He never showed up.  Never called.  Still haven’t heard from him to this day.  Finally, the first roofer called me and made an appointment to come out.  I took the day off and sat here all day waiting for him but he never showed and never called.  At least I got some yard work done that day.

So… another roofer got called, made an appointment and on Monday when he was supposed to be here, as if it’s any surprise, he never showed up.  Again, we have never heard back from him with an excuse, he just no-showed.  But amazingly, the first roofer did get back to me and apologized that he hadn’t made it out, his father got into an accident and was seriously injured so he spent the weekend at the hospital.  Okay, that’s a valid reason, but is he telling me that he couldn’t have gotten on the phone or sent an e-mail to a customer the whole time?  Because that’s how basic customer service works.  However, he did come out and he said he’d send me an estimate that I could get to the insurance agent and we could get started, more than 3 weeks after the initial wind storm.

But you know something?  We’re still waiting for the estimate.  He was supposed to e-mail it to me yesterday.  I already sent him an e-mail asking what happened and to date… nothing.  Not a damn thing. What the hell is wrong with these people?

The second incident happened this past Friday at the pharmacy.  I had dropped off a couple of refill prescriptions on Thursday and was told that they were backed up, so could I come back in a couple of hours?  Sure, why not.  I even gave them until the next day, but when I showed up to pick up my pills, I was told that one of them wouldn’t even be in until late Friday night.  Are they seriously telling me they didn’t know that?  They couldn’t have said that one of them wouldn’t be available until Saturday and maybe saved me a trip?  They don’t know my phone number or e-mail address to send me a notification? Customer service anyone?

But no, I showed up Friday afternoon and was told that I could have some, but not all of my prescriptions because… they’re lazy.  Or more likely just don’t care.  And that’s the thing, there were no apologies or anything, they simply don’t give a damn if they inconvenience the people paying their paychecks.  It isn’t important to them.  I had to come back on Monday to pick up my pills, which was fine because I wasn’t out, but that’s 3 trips that I had to make to the pharmacy when it should have been done in 1 and they couldn’t care less about it.

When I’m working, I actually care about my clients.  I am in contact with them if anything goes awry.  I work very, very hard to make sure I can keep my word to them and if something out of the ordinary happens and I can’t, I make sure they know it.  I don’t make them call me, I call them.  They can trust me to do what I say I will do and if I can’t, to keep them in the loop.  And it’s damn rare when I can’t do what I promise to do.  So why are so many other businesses so ridiculously lax when it comes to customer service?  I really don’t get it.  It isn’t like it would have cost any of these companies extra money to treat me well.  In fact, their failure to act cost them potential money and business and certainly got them some bad reviews on Yelp.  They’re only shooting themselves in the foot.  There are dozens of roofers and piles of pharmacies in the local area that I can go to, it isn’t like I don’t have options.  They need me more than I need them.  So why are they so stupid?  I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject because I don’t get it.

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