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What was your best customer service experience last year?

April 8, 2016

What was your best customer service experience last year?

That’s the question I asked 31 participants at a recent workshop I was facilitating. The responses were enlightening, entertaining and had something in common. In almost every case an employee with the company or organization had gone beyond their regular job duties to make sure that the customer was more than satisfied, indeed received something that they had not expected.

Amazon.com was the company mentioned several times. In one case, one of the participants from Mississippi told of how she lost a cellphone power cord during a visit to a family member in North Carolina. To her amazement, she received a package a few days later from Amazon.com that contained her power cord. She wondered how such a thing could have happened. It turned out that while on her visit to North Carolina she had returned a pair of shoes to Amazon.com. It seems that the power cord had somehow dropped into the shoe box. When the Amazon.com employee opened the returned shoes they found the power cord, packaged it and sent it to the customer in Mississippi.

Another participant told about her experience with a Target store. She had left her purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot because she had been attending to her young grandchildren. In addition to the usual credit cards, there was several hundred dollars in cash in the purse. When she arrived at home there was a message on her home telephone informing her that her purse had been found and could be picked up at the store. She went back to the Target store and learned that the employee whose job it was to collect the shopping carts from the parking lot had found her purse and turned it in. He told her that he did so because someone had done it to a member of his family and he felt that he should do the same.

Two participants related stories of how an employee paid their bills because they had forgotten to update their expired credit cards. Although the amounts were relatively small there was certainly no requirement for an employee to take their own money to pay a customer’s bill. And yes, the customers returned to the stores and repaid the employees.

And then there was the case of the participant who went on a Carnival cruise with her friend. The friend had a certain eating disorder that required a certain type of meal. At dinner on the first evening of the cruise the server was informed of the condition, to which he replied that there was no problem because the kitchen was prepared. When the meal arrived it had to be sent back because it did not meet what had been ordered. When the replacement meal arrived it too was unsatisfactory. The diner/customer did not eat it and apparently displayed a bit of displeasure on her face. The dining room manager noticed the situation, apologized and had a private table for them with the appropriate food for the remainder of the cruise.

In another case, a customer called a state agency that needed some information from the customer’s income tax return. The employee at the state agency took the time to go line-by-line to help the customer fill out the form and help provide the information. When a fellow employee asked why that was done when it was not necessary, the helpful employee stated, “I treat everyone who calls here just like I would want my mother to be treated.”

The stories served to remind me that there was still plenty to celebrate in the customer service world. I also discovered that there is an organization, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) that researches and surveys this topic. Each quarter it publishes a report on overall U.S. customer satisfaction. The index is on a scale of 1 – 100. ACSI’s latest results reveal that overall consumer satisfaction is dropping slightly. In the 4th quarter of 2015 the Index stood at 73.4. That compares to 75.2 in the same quarter in 2014 and 76.3 at the same time in 2013. By the way, the 2013 score was the highest 4th quarter mark in over 30 years. You can see much more details reports of various industries and companies at http://www.theacsi.org.

Below are the ASCI 2015 scores by industry, followed by the score for federal departments.
Manufacturing/Durable Goods …………79
Accommodation & Food Services ……..78
Manufacturing/Nondurable goods …..77
Retail trade ……………………………….…..77
Health care & Social Assistance …….…75
Finance & Insurance ……………………….75
Energy Utilities ………………………………74
Transportation ………………………………74
Information …………………………………..69
Local Government ………………….……..64
Federal Government …………….……….64

Here are the 2015 scores for federal departments:
Interior ……………………………………..75
State ………………………………………….71
Defense …………………………………….70
Homeland Security ………………….…67
Commerce …………………………………66
Social Security Administration ……66
Agriculture ………………………………..63
Health & Human Services ………….62
Transportation ………………………….61
Education ………………………………….61
Veterans Affairs ……………………..….60
Justice ………………………………………59
Treasury …………………………….……..55