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The Customer Service Disaster

Photo © pathdoc/

Customer service used to be just that – service: A helpful voice at the other end of a swift phone call. That’s long gone. Helpful became dreadful. For the last 10-20 years, customer service has become something to avoid at almost all cost. Because life’s too short – for the wait and the annoyance. Which makes the following question interesting: What happens when you suddenly meet great customer service?

Think about it – and don’t try to recall when it happened last, just focus on your own reaction. No wait, the call is answered right away, the support person is helpful and knowledgeable. Elation? Surprise? Smile? Probably all of the above – a ‘you made my day’ feeling. That’s how starved we are for ‘real’ customer service.

It happened to me the other day. I called our Internet Provider (aka ISP) about the price hike on the invoice received the day before. Two minutes later I hung up – with a new monthly price lower than the one we had before and a credit for the previous month. I couldn’t believe it. Just two days before, I’d spent 90 minutes in line to talk to the cable provider’s support. It was the 3rd call in two days, and every time – including the 3rd – I got misleading guidance.

The point is – bad customer service is the rule, not the exception. It’s not only a tremendous waste of time and a threat to our mental health, it’s also a growing security threat. Scammers have made the obvious observation – that irritated or frustrated customers are easy targets. 

This example – penned by Bob Sullivan in a Substack blogpost recently – sets the scene:

When Bank of America put Hank Molenaar on hold recently, it told the Houston resident there would be a long wait time and he could press 1 to get a call back instead.  But before the bank called, criminals called, impersonating the bank, and stole his money via Zelle.  It was a Perfect Scam. And the vulnerability that was exploited? It was poor customer service.

This is the ‘Customer Service Disaster’ in the heading. Not how bad it has become, but the consequences. By ignoring customers and customer service, Facebook, your bank, your local cable provider and everything in between are creating an irresistible opportunity for scammers. 

It’s tempting to go on but if you understand the scenario, you might as well do the reasoning yourself. Read Bob Sullivan’s post and get inspired. I did. And I’m asking myself the obvious question: How did we get here? 

Like you, I don’t like the answer: We accepted lousy customer service for too long. And yes, the banks and ISPs and cable providers and all the others need to change, but so do we. Accept sh.., get sh.. .

Shall we get started?

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