Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tearing down the Walls to Good Customer Service

Call me a princess, but I had to return or exchange a bunch of damaged or bad quality things in the past two weeks.  From a third try at getting my eyeglass prescription filled correctly to a keratin treatment re-do to a mattress that smelled like mildew (eeww!).  The good news is that all three of those companies redid or replaced the items without much hassle and with decent customer service.  (Thank you, Loft 26, Cohens, and Sleepys!) 

The bad news is that I'm nostalgic for a time when workmanship was excellent and important to begin with.  (Of course, I only HEAR about those times from older relatives or movies on Turner Classics.)

Back to the good news.  Customer service.  We're in a time when consumer goods are a dime a dozen and Miss Manners is rolling over in her grave.  We just don't seem to care as much.  BUT, now with more people out of work, companies can be more discriminating in the workers they hire, and bad employee attitudes may put bad workers at bay.

Danny Meyer, whom I've long respected for his conscientiousness about sustainability as well as creating quality restaurants from Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe to the hot new Shake Shake phenomenon , just added a brand extension to Union Square Hospitality Group all about customer service.  Today on the Wall Street Journal Report he explained how his new HQ -- for Hospitality Quotient -- is new company to help those who are already the best at what they do or make, make their stakeholders even happier with good treatment and good customer service.

In a way, we can also thank social media for influencing this potential trend:  Let's look at what Frank Eliason set out to do with @comcastcares on Twitter.  Knowing people can say and write exactly what they want about a company he and others, like the classic examples of Zappos and Dell, helped inspire them to make good customer service a mandate on the social web. It's all tied together.  The walls are down, companies are bare naked, and even Cohen's Opticals knows I can write something good or bad so maybe, just maybe, companies are erring on the side of better workmanship, better customer-facing employee training and better HQ overall.  And better customer service can actually help stimulate the economy!  I like this post on it from last year:

Now, there are still the places like Bard Graduate Center, which has ignored my pleas and emails to begin their construction on Saturday mornings later than the 7A start they have had in place for the past weeks.  So, I can take it to my blog, and at least feel I had a place to share my pain...and hope they will remember that the walls between public opinion and good customer service are as thin as the walls between our physical buildings.