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The good, the bad, and the ugly...

Tuesday, 15th February 2011

A rather rapid and very spontaneous blog this one. A frustrating series of calls with my broadband supplier got me thinking... Are their any industries or sectors with generally brilliant customer service? Are there any with generally poor customer service? Why is there the big difference, and how could one learn from the other?

My starter for 10, based purely on personal experience...please please please build on this. I want this page to become a living, breathing entity, and to start doing something about stuff that is wrong!

The good

How about coffee shops? Regardless of what you think about independents versus chains, or the taste differences between Starbucks and Nero, I'd really struggle to say anything bad about the instore service. My local Caffe Nero is quite "unusually" staffed, but I always feel welcome, involved, and cared for.

What other sectors (as opposed to individual businesses) are out there about which it is difficult to find complaints?

The bad

Banks. There appears to be a real division between some genuinely excellent stuff that happens (my last two business managers at HSBC, for example) and some shocking (pretty much everything I've ever had to do with Santander). The difference appears to be only partly about the organisation; a significant chunk is about the specific individuals you're in contact with.

Some structural stuff applies - call centres versus a real bank manager for example - but the individual plays a huge role as well.

The ugly

I'd put telecoms in here. The organisations seem far too big; internal structures are built for their convenience, not the customers; any training that goes on misses actually looking at things from the customers' point of view.

Why would you build a customer service operation that insisted your customer repeats (often lengthy) security information every time their call is transferred? Why have a broadband department and a telephone department and insist that a customer speaks to both about their one physical line?

I'm yet to find a telecoms provider that has done anything other than really, really annoy me, and I've tried a few!

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