Sunday, August 20, 2006

Customer Service is Dead

As some people close to me may know, I just recently started a new job. And, to help me understand the philosophy on customer service at this new company, I was given a copy of a book called "Raving Fans." Basically, it espouses a customer-oriented philosophy to service (i.e. give them what they want, not what you think they want, or what you want them to have) and the idea of "plus one", which is to say that you deliver what you promise, and then a little more.

Also, y'all know my feelings on "The Devil Wears Prada" and how ultimately I empathized more with the Evil Bosslady than with the protagonist of the story... And one of the lessons I took away from the book/movie was that, when "no" as an answer is not an option, you must find a way to make it (whatever "it" is) happen.

As Some Guy will tell you, women tend to earn less than men, in part because when we are offered a job and given the salary, we don't ask for or negotiate for more. It's interesting, though, that when people do ask for more, often times they get it.

So, taking all of that into consideration, my new approach to getting what I want is first to tell the person exactly what I want to see happen, then to not take no for an answer. Because, I've learned that there is very little you would ask for that cannot be accomplished so long as you speak to the correct person (that is, the person with the authority and power to bend or break the rule).

I've given up trying to negotiate with customer service people, or get angry or frustrated with them. They don't have the power or authority to override policy. So, I explain to them what I want, wait for them to tell me no, tell them again but with different words, have them tell me no again, and then ask to speak with a higher-up. I rinse-lather-repeat until I get my yes. It is frustrating, yes, and time consuming, but this is what They count on - that you'll give up. Because for every one person who pushes through and annoys up the ladder until they get a yes, there are hundreds of people who give up along the line. It's like insurance... paying out to the one or two people who persevere in relation to the hundreds of people paying in but never getting the payout. Most times, there are ways to bend the rules if you ask nicely and continue to ask...

Needless to say, the point of all of this is that when I was trying to buy my beautiful niece a "tricul" (or, a tricycle for those not fluent in "toddler"), I went to Toys R Us to buy it. Now, I'm a good Auntie but not the best Auntie, and I was a little late ordering the present. The party was Saturday, and this was Tuesday, which should have been enough time to buy the present and get it by Friday, provided I paid for overnight shipping. So, I order the tricycle, and then find that it will take three to five days just to process the order, let alone ship it, and that the expected delivery date, even with expedited shipping, is the Monday after the party. So I call customer service, politely explain the problem, and ask if there is something I can do to ensure the bike will ship on Wednesday or Thursday. The woman tells me that she can't guarantee anything, even though the bike is in stock. We go back and forth, and I even speak to a manager, but to no avail. And I can't go into a store and buy it, because this tricycle is an online-only toy... I try to cancel the order, but they can't do that, either. The only thing I can do is to return the toy to a Toys R Us when it comes, but I'm still out the shipping... So they can't guarantee I'll get the toy on time (even though I'm paying to ensure that, and the toy IS in stock) and they can't cancel the order...

This ticks me off, because the toy is in stock! There is no logical reason that it should take so long to process the order.

So I find an even better tricycle at an online toy store called, and I call them directly before placing the order. I speak with one of their service reps, and even though it is past the deadline that they can guarantee delivery, he personally places the order and within an hour, I've already received confirmation that the tricycle has shipped.

The kicker? The Toys R Us tricycle ships the next day, and comes in time for the party...

Anyway, the point of the story is that rocks, and they were so very polite and went out of their way to "break the rules" so I could get the toy on time. So buy your toys from

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