What happened to customer service?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed how poor customer service is these days. It’s frustrating to purchase a product, or attempt to do so, and in the process discover that no one seems to care. We used to just complain about the post office and DMV, but now it seems that many companies have determined that it is more cost effective to put the customer off than to hire another person to help. Then I ran across an article today with this headline: “Want to Boost Business? Stop Answering the Phone

Upon reading the article, it seems that a major financial services company is recommending that Financial Advisors should quit immediately answering the phone and train their clients to wait. I was appalled when I read the reasons for doing so. Here are their reasons and why I think they are completely wrong….

1)    “It will establish reasonable expectations — that is, clients may expect a response within, say, 24 hours but not instantly. A client for whom nothing short of instant gratification will suffice is far more likely to be disappointed than one who is accustomed to a brief wait.”

My response: I don’t even know how to respond to this first one. It’s just good customer service to answer the phone. Clients call because they need advice. I am really tired of voice mail and automated voice response systems.  Customers crave human contact, so at least answer the phone with a live voice whenever possible. Sometimes the phone can’t be answered right away, but intentionally not answering the phone doesn’t benefit the advisor or the client.

2)    “It will free up time for other activities critical to running a practice. Surveys show that advisors spend a disproportionate amount of time answering client calls, rather than exploring more productive and innovative ways of keeping and winning business.”

My response: If you’re that busy, you should be able to afford to hire an assistant. There are other more efficient ways to increase productivity.

3)    “It will allow the advisor to give a thoughtful response to questions, rather than a spur-of-the-moment reaction.”

My response: If the advisor knows what he or she is doing, and we hope they do, they should be able to provide the necessary answers and advice in most cases without a delay. If the answer is not readily available, it’s not hard to tell the client that you need to do some research and will get back to them.

For these reasons we strive to answer and respond to your phone calls and emails as quickly as possible. Tell us your horror stories about customer service by leaving your comments below.

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