I’m going to do my very best to not be so negative in this post, but I can not make any promises. Here goes.
Yesterday morning I had to contact my bank, Bank of America, regarding a check that cleared. It took me about 10 minutes to get through to a live customer service agent and that was after, repeatedly yelling at the automated voice for “Customer Service.”
Now, maybe I shouldn’t have yelled at the robotic voice command automated service voice, but the fact remains that if I call and want to speak to a real live person, I should be able to without jumping through hoops, being asked to put my social security number, bank account number, date of birth, mother’s madin name, telephone access code, or any other detail they think is important. They should just patch me through to an actual person who I will gladly verify my information to and proceed with the phone call. Instead, I got, “I’m sorry, but your telephone access code is incorrect, please input your telephone access code, now.” WRONG answer!
After about eight minutes, I got through to someone, but it was not without repeatedly saying, “Customer Service” until the robotic voice finally got that I wasn’t putting in any information. Now, maybe it was wrong of me to do this, maybe it would have been easier if I just hung on to my patience and grabbed my purse and check book and put in my account information, but I didn’t and I don’t feel bad.
See, this is where big companies fail. They fail when it comes to good, real customer service. If a customer calls, they should not have to jump through hoops to talk to someone about whatever the service/product being offered. When I call my bank, I am calling because something has happened, something of extreme importance and I want to talk to someone immediately. I already know what my account information is because I logged in online, I don’t need it reiterated on the phone before being able to discuss the matter with a person.
I have often heard people on the internet discuss methods of communication. They talk about listing how you want to be contacted clearly so that you don’t end up overwhelmed by phone or email. I agree with them to a degree. Yes, you want to make sure that you are carving out time to get work done and not spending hours responding to emails and phone calls, but you also need to make sure that you are available to your customers and potential customers. You can choose when to return a call, or to take one immediately, but running a business the way many big businesses do is how you lose a customer. I’ve made this mistake before; I’ve not returned phone calls, or have forgotten about phone calls to make and guess what? I’ve lost those sales. Not to mention, I’ve potentially lost those customers for ever and ever. Which sucks and with each failed or forgotten phone call, I’ve made a note to make more notes and respond quickly, not to create high expectations, but to deliver better service. At the end of the day, when a customer, or even myself, forks over any amount of money (unless it’s cheap disposable clothing at H&M or Zara), I want to know that I’m getting the best experience and service possible. While I don’t expect immediate service, I do expect reasonable and high quality service and that includes my bank that charges for every little service, pays on goods when they shouldn’t and then charges you for that service, and doesn’t allow you to speak with a customer service representative without sacrificing your newborn child and your teeth.
Experiencing what I experienced is the same as receiving poor care in-person in a store. It is enough for me to write this post and to take action against big banks and big businesses. I don’t need to tell you any more details about the situation, but after dealing with the automated service and a customer service representative who was helpful, but not too helpful, I decided I won’t be banking with Bank of America anymore. When I get back to the east coast after this trip, I will be changing banks to a smaller credit union and adopting a “cash only” policy (thanks Japan!) to avoid having to deal with situations like this in the future.
I also highly encourage people in America to consider who you bank with and whether you want them to have as much power as they currently do. There are certain practices that I find troublesome in our banking industry and I find it a bit unnerving that so many people have yet to consider the idea of shutting down big banks. It’s also amazing that one bad moment with an automated service could cause me to question better business practices and what I want from the businesses I engage with on a regular basis.
If you have any experiences or stories you want to share about automated services and poor customer service please leave them below. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I’ve always cared about customer service. I think it’s time we start addressing this issue, not just because of money, but because of it’s impact on business and culture on a large scale.