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  #1  
Old 31 May 2013, 09:10 PM
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Jaded Kafkaesque Customer Service

My wife, Stacy, was having a problem with her computer, so she went to visit a computer service store on the East Side. After more than 20 minutes in line, Stacy’s turn came.

The employee started to listen to her computer problem but was soon interrupted by a telephone call. The call lasted a few minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, with no sign of abating. She finally sought to get his attention with a loud “excuse me!”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...tomer-service/
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  #2  
Old 31 May 2013, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Our policy is to give time and deference to call-ins.”
IMS, this was the (un?)official policy when I worked at NAPA. I always figured that the thought was that someone on the phone could easily hang up and call a competitor. But someone in the store has to take more effort to drive to a competitor, so they'll wait longer to be helped.

I ignored the policy as much as possible myself.
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  #3  
Old 31 May 2013, 10:07 PM
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Every place I've worked, and every place Lizzy has worked, has had this as a de facto, if not explicit policy. Typically it was expressed as 'the phone must be answered within three rings,' and putting the customer on hold was rarely an acceptable option.

This puts customer service representatives in the awkward position of choosing to upset the customer or their employer. Upsetting the employer is the riskier alternative, though it was always possible that either alternative would lead to disciplinary action. In other words, there was no correct course of action, since the employee would be dealing with two contradictory imperatives from the employer.

The ultimate problem is the employers view the employee as a liability rather than an asset. If you want good customer service, patronize places that take care of their employees.
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  #4  
Old 31 May 2013, 10:26 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Originally Posted by chillas View Post
...
This puts customer service representatives in the awkward position of choosing to upset the customer or their employer. Upsetting the employer is the riskier alternative, though it was always possible that either alternative would lead to disciplinary action. In other words, there was no correct course of action, since the employee would be dealing with two contradictory imperatives from the employer.
...
My gosh, it's the retail version of the Kobayashi Maru scenario!

Nick
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  #5  
Old 31 May 2013, 10:50 PM
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Jaded

My viewpoint (both as a customer service employee and as a customer) is that the actual customer standing in front of you is much more important than a potential customer who might be calling you on the phone.
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  #6  
Old 31 May 2013, 10:54 PM
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I giggle at the idea of walk-in computer service.
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  #7  
Old 31 May 2013, 10:59 PM
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My viewpoint (both as a customer service employee and as a customer) is that the actual customer standing in front of you is much more important than a potential customer who might be calling you on the phone.
Yup, I absolutely agree with that. It's unfortunate that most places don't see it that way. When I worked customer service I did my best to ignore the 'phone first' mandate.
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  #8  
Old 01 June 2013, 12:03 AM
Barbara
 
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Originally Posted by snopes View Post
My viewpoint (both as a customer service employee and as a customer) is that the actual customer standing in front of you is much more important than a potential customer who might be calling you on the phone.
From the business' point of view, though, it's the other way around - the customer on the phone can and will easily hang up and "go" elsewhere, while the one in the store will generally stick around for quite a bit before giving up.
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  #9  
Old 01 June 2013, 12:25 AM
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the one in the store will generally stick around for quite a bit before giving up.
But how likely is it that he'll ever come back?
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  #10  
Old 01 June 2013, 12:28 AM
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Bingo. I may stay that time, but I will find another place to go after that.
I don't know about anyone else, but I am not afraid to vote with my feet and have left places because the line was too long or I was being ignored.
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  #11  
Old 01 June 2013, 12:29 AM
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I've always considered that the customer in front of you is the near certain sale, while the one of the phone is more of a maybe sale. Who knows if they'll like what they hear, or if they're follow up and come in? Protect the almost certain sale. A bird in the hand, as they say.
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  #12  
Old 01 June 2013, 03:56 AM
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I work in a convenience store. Our policy is the customer in line comes first. We have a dedicated deli line for orders to our food service and dedicated employees who answer that line. If no one is in the office and the "bat phone" an intra-store line, or the office phone rings, we continue waiting on customers. If no one gets to the phone then either the person will call back or not. Good grief our lines are long and too slow already.

Kmart was the same way when I worked in Lay-a-way. If I had a phone customer that person had to wait until my in store customers were taken care of.

I cannot imagine doing what the csr in the OP did. It's just ridiculously rude and a good way to lose business.
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  #13  
Old 01 June 2013, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Sylvanz View Post
I cannot imagine doing what the csr in the OP did. It's just ridiculously rude and a good way to lose business.
I'll point out that the exact details are reported by the customer, in this case, and may (probably) didn't happen quite exactly as described. That said, as I've pointed out and many others can attest to, many places have policies the opposite of what you've experienced (and the policies you had were much more sensible!)
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  #14  
Old 01 June 2013, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chillas View Post
I'll point out that the exact details are reported by the customer, in this case, and may (probably) didn't happen quite exactly as described. That said, as I've pointed out and many others can attest to, many places have policies the opposite of what you've experienced (and the policies you had were much more sensible!)
Oh, I'm aware that the veracity of the OP is at least questionable. For kicks though if it did happen...soooo rude.

And I'm surely not questioning the experiences of those who've posted above. I've gotten enough lousy service of that type to know it's not always company policy to serve the customer in front of you. My post was just another perspective. And yes I'm really glad I've never been put into that sort of a bind. It's just a stupid way to treat your employees not to mention your customers.
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  #15  
Old 01 June 2013, 01:38 PM
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No argument on that, that's for sure!
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  #16  
Old 01 June 2013, 07:38 PM
fitz1980 fitz1980 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by chillas View Post
Yup, I absolutely agree with that. It's unfortunate that most places don't see it that way. When I worked customer service I did my best to ignore the 'phone first' mandate.
Same here. Chili's has a similar policy. The very manager who fired me (not for anything related to phones tho) had a habit of screaming "phone's ringing!!!" when me and my co-workers were busy and the phone would ring.

My usual response was "than someone should answer it....."

What I wanted to say was "than pick it up; you NSFBSKing backbirth, because I'm busy with actual customers who are in the actual building and don't appreciate me dissing them to take a phone call."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvanz View Post
I cannot imagine doing what the csr in the OP did. It's just ridiculously rude and a good way to lose business.
You work in convenience stores, correct? Those businesses are a bit different than casual dining. BTW I'm not knocking either one. Since casual dining generally has a 10-20 minute prep time for food they push the out of to-go food since it is the same price but requires less overhead since to-go customers don't sit in the dining room.

Of course businesses don't want to pay a dedicated to-go person, since that person gets paid an actual hourly wage. So they like to push to-go responsibility onto bartenders, servers and the like.
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