Over the course of  July, guest bloggers from around the world share their good, bad, or ugly customer service experiences. It’s a place to complain, rant, and highlight opportunities for companies to improve. But, this series is also a place to celebrate when companies do well, processes work effectively, service representatives are our advocates, and we leave a situation as stronger believers in the product or service than we started.  
My fellow Hawaiian and Nike+ addict.

My fellow Hawaiian and Nike+ addict.

Today’s blog post comes from a fellow Hawaiian. Kristin is more of a tech geek and early adopter than I am, though she’ll never care to admit it. Case in point, the Nike+Fuelband. Her superpowers include wit and mind-reading.  She makes you laugh so hard you’re crying and somehow she always knows when you need a kombucha and a high-five.

When it comes to dealing with customer service, I’ve always focused on the idea to ‘treat others how you would want to be treated.’  It seems pretty logical to me that if you desire good service, you set the stage, be the example – you set the tone of the attitude of the conversation.  About 99.9% of the time, this actually works for me.  The outcome usually is a win/win between me and the company, and it’s all good.

However, that .1% just happened to me, and it got quite ugly.

My family and I had recently moved into a new home and we were going through the painstaking process of mail forwarding, setting up utility accounts, etc. On ‘my’ list was to set up our cable/internet service.  I called our previous service provider, Comcast, and asked for our account services to be moved to the new address.  I was also interested in seeing if I would get a reduced rate (perhaps a new fun bundled package)  on the services since it was a new home.  The agent who answered the phone sold me on a bundle (it was going to save me some money) and also offered their newly established home security package.  The way they ‘sold’ it to me, it was not going to cost us a cent more than what we had previously been paying just for cable and internet.  Since we needed a security system in our home, I agreed to talking through rates and having an installer come out to see what we could do.  They scheduled the date, and we were set to go.

When the installer came, he set up our cable and internet, and then attempted to install all of the security items.  Needless to say, it was a long process and he made a few errors along the way, but I trusted him that he was the expert and gave him the space.  However, even upon instruction, he still was unsure of how it all worked.  Again, I gave him some grace, as perhaps our install was a little more difficult given it was a new home.

Well, the install was not done properly, and essentially, we got a little frustrated with the way it worked, and the next day, attempted to make a ‘return’ on the home security.  The representative did tell me that I a month to try it out, and if it wasn’t working out, I could return it for a full money back guarantee.

Thus begins my ‘journey’ with my motto of ‘treat them as I would like to be treated’.

I made a total of 6 different calls and online chats to Comcast’s customer service department.   I have never experienced a more disjointed series of events with a company, ever.  I had each agent literally promising me things that never came through, and then each time I spoke with them, they were ‘not able to see the transcript of my last chat’.    Having to re-explain everything each time I spoke with them became the true test of my patience.

However, it was between the effort of my 5th and 6th attempt with them that truly skyrocketed my own attitude to orbit.

I was online with an agent, explaining to them that I had not been credited my full amount of money that I fronted to them upon installation of the home security services.  There was a difference of about $400 that was completely missing from their ‘files’ – and I wanted it all back.   I had bank statements open in front of me , dates and receipts –  I had it all and was fully prepared.  The agent online went to check with her supervisor on the status of my account, and assured me that we would be getting a refund in order.  While she was ‘checking’ on it, I got a call.   It was another agent from Comcast, the same company.  So, I was ‘chatting’ with someone online, while another agent actually calls me on the phone.  The second agent on the phone proceeds to tell me that there is nothing they can do with servicing me my money back, while I have the first agent online telling me the complete opposite.

It was a glimmer of hope and despair all at the same time.

What was the result?  Well, according to the agent on the phone, I was not to receive any money back, and that the agent online was misinformed.

Photo Credit: info.hoganassessments.com

Photo Credit: info.hoganassessments.com

My pleasant attitude went out the door in less than 10 seconds.

“Why am I being told two completely different things by the same company AT THE SAME TIME?”

“I’m not sure ma’am, but I am the one with your account open and we do not see any errors”

“Well can you see in your systems that I am chatting with someone online?”

“No”

Round and round.  It went like this for about 15 minutes. 15 long, frustrating, minutes.

Well, how did this all turn out?  A month later, I finally got in touch with an actual, live, local Comcast representative who escalated this to higher management and got me my credit back.  

Oh, and for the record – they WERE able to pull up all of my transcripts and see how I was told 6 different things by each agent…whew!

Did I certainly attempt to keep my attitude pleasant through each interaction?  Yes!  Treat them as you would want to be treated.  But to be treated in the way I was treated by this company – My attitude was sure tested.  I just hope that they realize that my whole intention was to try to understand and be pleasant.

I can’t imagine being as patient as Kristin, especially being $400 poorer and a new homeowner. Actually for a fact I know I’m not, as seen by my experiences with online floral companies here and here. I have no idea what Comcast’s agents were doing or why their transcript screens weren’t working or even why their service responses were inconsistent.  Regardless Kristin challenges us to take the higher road, even when the company doesn’t deserve it and works with the company to identify areas of growth so others don’t have to experience what she did. Have a similar experience to share? Post it in the comments! 

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There’s no exchange of moolah behind these blog pages, pro-deals, or freebies with this series. What you see is what you get; real stories from real people who are sharing their experiences to challenge the status quo, inspire companies to take action, and ultimately build a life long customer. Be sure to check back this weekend for an upcoming post courtesy of Kayla Robertson who shares her experience with possibly the the worst airline ever.

July 10: Where’s the Line? by Kristin McGunnigle

July 8: Do customers dream of electric sheep? by Stephen Ellis

July 5: Nike earns an A+ by Jackie Ostlie

July 3: How to Please the Queen by Katrina Taylor

July 1: Are you kidding me? by Evelyn Wolf