Monday, November 13, 2006

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The Decline of Customer Service

November 13, 2006

The Decline of Customer Service

By Richard Kuper

The Op Ed Page

Businesses usually rise and fall, at least in part, on the quality of their customer service. That leaves one to wonder why many companies, especially the larger ones, have chosen to outsource their customer services to places where, for starters, English is not the native language, and so those hired to be the customer-facing company representatives for these customers are, for the most part, incapable of having a clear and understandable conversation with the customer.

The modern world provides for multiple means of providing customer support. There is, of course, the in-person -physically-at-the-company customer support, where that is feasible (physical stores, for example). Such companies usually take care to ensure that the persons who represent them are presentable and can communicate clearly with the customer. Technology has added other options. There is, of course, customer service by telephone. Calling customer service has proven to be a nightmare for a wide variety of citizens here in the USA, as they are more often than not connected to someone in a far-away country with less than adequate English-speaking skills, and often no clue as to how to address the problem. In addition, there is now e-mail and on-line chat, and the written responses show the glaring issues that now exist. More often than not there are multiple words missing making the information incomprehensible. Also frequent are canned paragraphs and phrases that usually have nothing to do with responding to the help that has been requested.

It is a mystery to this writer why it is that companies have gone so far out of their way to do what they can to alienate and infuriate their customers. Do they not want our business?