Bad, Acceptable, and Great

When talking about customer service, I usually categorize the level of customer service and the customer service experience into one of three categories:

  • Bad
  • Acceptable
  • Great

I am sure that there are far more technical and perhaps far more accurate ways to classify the level of service and the overall experience, but for me, bad, acceptable, and great has worked out just fine. Some examples of each:

You call the company and navigate your way through countless menus and automated prompts. Once you get to the right department, you wait 20 minutes to talk to a person. The person who picks up is quite rude, not very sympathetic of your problem, and far from helpful. You’re forced to repeat your problem several times and are regularly put on hold without a “Would you mind holding?” or “Thank you.” anywhere in the call.

Acceptable customer service would be when you call a company and have to go through maybe one or two menus to get to the right department. Hold time is 5-10 minutes and you’re transferred to a person who says “Hi, how can I help you?” and is fairly pleasant and helpful. You do have to repeat your issue one or two times and you’re put on hold more often than you’d like, but the person remains friendly and helpful.

You dial the number and you’re immediately connected with an operator. The operator writes down your problem and gives you a reference ID in case you’re disconnected or need to call back. The operator then says “Would you mind holding while I locate a representative to take your call?” and finds someone and gives them the reference ID. The operator comes back and says “Thanks for your patience. I’m going to transfer you to the appropriate person right now.” and you’re connected. The representative picks up the phone and says “Hi, thanks for calling Company XYZ. My name is Bob, would you mind waiting for just a minute while I review your issue?” You say okay and the representatives reviews your issue and is friendly, courteous, and helpful during the call. You are only put on hold briefly once or twice during the call.

See the difference between bad, acceptable, and great customer service? Most consumers today encounter acceptable customer service and consider it to be great. It’s quite sad how consumers today are thankful if they can get to someone who speaks English and can type and read properly within 15 minutes. Consumers are forgetting about things like being addressed by name and (human) operators that define the difference between acceptable and great.

It’s amazing about how little things like asking the customer if he or she would mind holding for a moment make such a big difference in the overall customer service experience. Whether it be an operator picking up the phone, a customer being addressed by name, or less confusing menus, they all make a big difference.

The next few posts will be about little things in customer service that make big differences and really do greatly improve the customer service experience.