Is good customer service dead (or nearly so)?

Nowadays, it seems as if it is nearly impossible to find good customer service. I wanted to share some recent experiences. Hopefully you have had better luck than I, at least in the automotive area.

Jiffy Lube
Jiffy Lube is overpriced, but years ago I decided my time was more important than saving something like $10 by going elsewhere. I knew I could take my car in on my Wednesday off, and be out of there in about 15 to 20 minutes. Except in April, I was there about 45 minutes, which is ridiculous for JL during the week. So I filled out a comment card with scathing reviews, answering things like I was very unlikely to come back, that I was highly unsatisfied with the wait time, that the services were overpriced. Almost two months later, even though I included both a phone number and email, no one at JL bothered to contact me. Bye-bye, Jiffy Lube.

Giant Eagle
Last month, and I called GE to see if a $99 gazebo on display was in stock. The woman said yes, so I told her I would be right down. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was not there, only a smaller one was (I was very specific as to the size). We complained and were offered the floor model for 10 percent off. Since this display had been up for a month, and we had no idea if it was scratched or bent, and because we would have to wait for them to dismantle it, we said that was not good enough.

When I went home, I filled out an online complaint. The store manager called me two days later and said he would find the gazebo from another store and give it to me for his cost, $50. A week later, we had it. That, my friends, is good customer service. The store itself is not exactly brimming with friendly people, but I can at least give me them credit for trying to make things right, something they did not do when I had a complaint about five years ago.

I made an 8:30 a.m. appointment for a brake check. When I arrived that morning, the manager said he would call me in an hour. At about 11:15, I had to call, only to find my car was "next in line." At 1:30, the manager said my brakes did, in fact, need to be replaced. My car ended up being ready around 2:45.

When I picked up my car, I asked the manager if I might make a suggestion, which was for Monro not to tell people they are going to call them in an hour if they might not be able to do so. The manager's reply? They were busy, I never said I needed the car for anything, and some places can take days for service.

I concurred I did not tell him I had plans, but his saying he would call in an hour set the expectation for my car being checked within an hour. Duh! Why did I even bother to make an appointment if no one was going to look at my car for close to five hours?! And if a garage took days to do brake repairs, I cannot imagine it would stay in business that long.

But those things are irrelevant. The manager should have apologized to me, not made excuses, which is exactly what I wrote in my online complaint to Monro. Talk about bad customer service. If Monro is anything like Jiffy Lube, then I can expect no response. And that means I can write off yet another car place.

Fortunately, I can give a shout-out to two Penn Hills establishments for excellent customer service: Dunkin' Donuts and Aldi. Both places have very friendly workers. DD especially always makes me feel welcome, and many of the people seem to go the extra mile.

Perhaps customer service isn't dead, maybe just on life support in some cases.


Jennie said…
I know that you and I discussed this issue when you posted the blog topic. A few months later, after multiple poor customer service experiences, I was just about to give up. After this past week, I am somewhat encouraged to report that there is still hope.
First of all, there is a very professional and friendly employee at CCAC North Campus who is the registrar for the child education programs named Debbie. My husband and I were in the process of exploring pre-K programs and one of the choices that we had narrowed down to was CCAC. Unfortunately, the way the literature read, the class times would not be able to mesh our work schedules. After just discussing this problem and getting off the phone with my husband, no more than 2 minutes passed when I received a call from Debbie from CCAC North following up on my inquiries. I proceded to tell her that we were interested in what they had to offer for our almost 5 year old but we had a conflict of work and class times. She then used what I call "critical thinking skills" and offered a very reasonable alternative w/drop-off and pick-up times as well as offering flexibility in the number of hours a day that our child could attend class and still fulfill his semester hour requirements. That nearly sealed the deal. If money were not an issue, Debbie's courtesy alone would have been enough for us to enroll our child at CCAC, but we later found a program that would also accomodate our schedules, offered what we were looking for in a pre-K program, and a much lower semester cost. Kudos to Debbie for her persistent professionalism and ability to think critically.
My second example of a save on good customer service just occured this evening while out to dinner with my family. Initially we were seated promptly at a local eatery. After we were seated, the young lady whom we thought was our waitress dissappeared. Now I have to add that it was rather amazing that we went out to eat at all as we have a 4 3/4 yr old son and a 21month old daughter, neither being mild mannered chidren by any means! My husband, much like most other fathers I woud suspect, has less patience with the kids when they start acting up than the mothers. Well, I should not stereotype-this is the case in our household. He usually opts to order take out but put no fuss up tonight about going to dinner. So after about 15 minutes of nobody approaching our table to ask for our drink orders, I proceeded to the hostess area where I am confident in assuming a manager was standing. I voiced my concern stating that with our 2 young children, we have a small window of time to bank on a peaceful dinner if you want to call it that. The gentleman quickly stated that he will have someone come right back. After about another 2 minutes, a very pleasant young waiter approached our table apologizing for the "mixup" and took our entire order without even writing it down. By this time the kids were somewhat antsy and our order was given very out of order w/the son chiming in with fragments of what he was interested in having. The waiter was very soft spoken, kneeled down to our son's level and focused soley on our son's order when we gave him the OK to speak. The waiter walked away saying that he "got it all". Our order came out in short fashion and we ate with a fair amount of calm, although we had to play musical chairs with the kids. We were checked on periodically, not obnoxiously and when we finished, Ross, our waiter, made sure we satisfied with everything and even offered us dessert and refills on the house. He additionally explained that he had taken the kids meals off the tab. Needless to say, both my husband and I agreed to leave a hefty tip and left with a feeling of refreshing satisfaction with the way our young Ross had treated us.
To summarize, in a world where poor customer service seems rampant, arguing from the merchant appears more likely to occur than not, Debbie who's critical thinking and Ross who's plain common sense and pleasant demeaner makes me want to say good customer service may still be alive!

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