The decline in ethics and customer service may be related…

IMGP0021Technology is my personal passion. It is what drives me to do things differently. Of course, always looking to do things better and faster, not just using gadgets. That said I have over the years had a number of devices that were important to me, that are no longer used.

I have for a long time sold those gadgets on eBay. There was a time when I was a loyal eBay user but not anymore. Their customer service has declined and the value of their fees relative to the cost of the fees is frustrating. When I am on vacation I am willing to pay a little extra to stay at a Marriott hotel. Not a lot extra but a little (50-199 bucks per stay). Why? Because I know I am going to receive excellent customer service. I do not think that about eBay anymore.

So I don’t post as much stuff on auction as I used to. I tend now to donate devices and gadgets to my kids or to organizations that will use them. That change is one that I find sad. In the first part because I have a huge number of positive evaluations on eBay (with no negatives and only 1 neutral). That used to mean something to me.

How an organization evolves their customer service is a critical component of going from small to medium and large business. First off, if your organization is moving from the world of small business to the world of large business use LEGAL SOFTWARE. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to in this modern pre-information age era to run into organizations that don’t pay for the software they use. The onus of payment isn’t on the vendor it is on the consumer. If you don’t pay for your software than more than shame on you. It is beyond unethical to do that.

IMGP0022The same by the way is true for music and movies. If you steal music or steal movies then whatever happens next should be the same as that company that steals software. Which is what you are doing, and what they are doing. If you don’t pay for something you are using, and it isn’t something that you own, it is stealing.

When a company takes fees from you and then provides horrible customer service I think that fits into that category. They are taking from their customers and not returning the same value as the monetary compensation extracted. I use the word extracted because it is a better fit that charged. You don’t get to charge eBay when they screw up. But they get to charge you, to impact your small business with horrible customer service.

It is the sad reality of being too large to fail. Or worse too large to care. eBay reached that status a couple of years ago. There are other companies that have gotten close to that status recently. Places that offer you mediocre to poor customer service. Over the years I have come to realize that the best way to solve most problems is to deal with it myself.

IMGP0023Many gadget geeks find this out pretty early on in their quest for the perfect gadget. You have to continue looking for better ways to do things. Customer service should always consider that a customer is something they want to keep. I recently ended my long relationship with Delorme products. I have owned one for more than 10 years. But based on my last interaction with their customer service I will never own another Delorme product. Even though in canceling my account, there would be a credit on the account, the customer service representative threatened to turn me into a collections company. After 10 years of customer status, why do that?

First off in the technology world, there is the issue of where in the reality you are. If you are on the cutting edge you don’t expect customer service. It isn’t easy for an organization to provide service beyond what is known. But if it is a mainstream device, I expect reasonable customer service. The sad reality of customer service is it isn’t what it used to be. Delivered with a smile and delivered with the intent of solving your problem.

Oh to live in times when customer service mattered more. When people that stole music (by shoplifting a CD) faced the legal ramifications. Now you can steal music in far too many ways. You can steal software, and in all cases, it isn’t the responsibility of the vendor.

Those who take what isn’t theirs, make it so much worse for those of us who do not. One of the impacts is in harsh rules for customer service. It is truly sad that the few make it hard for the many.

images today courtesy of the digital collection of Dr. Hans O Andersen

.doc

Missing customer service…