Saturday, April 27, 2013

3 No-brainer Rules for Customer Service

3 No-brainer Rules for Customer Service

It’s unusual to find a company with great customer service.  When I find one, I’m very loyal.

In the past, I might have gone all Tonya Harding on a few mechanics with poor customer skills.  But for the record, since I now have a writing outlet, it was NOT me who “opened up a can” on the bartender at Applebee’s last week because he wouldn’t extend happy hour by three minutes.  

Here are my Customer Service delights and nightmares:

When Pottery Barn Kids delivered my bedroom furniture, they left a single red rose on the dresser with a note that read,  “We really appreciate your business.”  It doesn’t take much to buy me.

My sprinkler guy is great.  He gives me home-made jam every Christmas, and he arrives speedy quick when my son breaks the sprinkler heads by running over them with the lawn tractor.

I’ve also rented a couple of limos on occasion.  If we exceeded the time limit by thirty minutes, the smart drivers didn’t charge us for it.  Limo companies don’t need billboards.  Just make the middle-aged moms happy because guess what?  We know thousands of friends whose kids will have proms next year.  For all that advertising, he should be paying ME.

Next we have the plankton in the scumbucket of Crabby Patty customer service.

Let’s talk technology—Big Gangnam Warehouse Style. The remote control to our home theater system needed reprogramming.  I’m not gonna name names, but the telephone customer service at “Crest Cry” had me searching my kitchen for the cameras from Punk’d.  

I was exasperated with their “Freak Squad,”  and I complained to the heads of Customer Service, Double Agents Lucy and Ethel, to no avail.

I fantasized about tying Secret Agent Cody to my barstool and demonstrating the merits of my Cutco collection.  If the knife cuts through pennies, it can handle a pocket protector and a few nerdy vital organs.  

Which leads me to my most recent customer service nightmare.  I’m planning a big party, and I hired a professional to print formal invitations.  (Note:  She charged me a $175 “design fee” which is NOT applied to the price of the order).  

The invitations resembled a Tiffany’s box, and my design included a small paper square glued on the front displaying, “Tiffany & Co.”  No big deal, right?  She delivered the invitations promptly.

The next week, I stuffed the envelopes and noticed half the glued-on squares were not straight—unless you were pretty drunk.  I emailed her a picture of an extremely crooked one and assumed she’d fix the bad ones.  Here’s the good part.  This is what she said:

“I’m sorry you were not happy with the invitations.  I took a lot of time and care putting the squares on.” (while I was high).  “They were NOT CROOKED WHEN I LEFT THEM WITH YOU.” (when I was also high).  

Wait.  Is she implying that I moved the squares?  

It’s one thing to screw up and admit you’re wrong.  I mean, stuff happens, and if you fix it, I’ll probably come back.  Seeing the picture, she couldn’t deny they were crooked.   So she blamed ME? 

Finally, there are three concrete rules of customer service: Treat customers the way you’d want to be treated.  A rose now and then would be nice.  And don’t rankle a writer.


  1. Great post, Cathy! Regarding the Tiffany lady, you should have sent her the check for payment with the decimal point moved one digit to the left and then when she called to complain the amount was wrong, accused her of moving it herself.

  2. That's a good one! However, business people nowadays have credit card swipers for their phones. That's how I paid. When we first met, she boasted about how conscientious she was and that she was a perfectionist. !!

    Thanks for commenting. I think you're the only person reading!! :)

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