Saturday, July 17, 2004

Bad Customer Experience Experts 

So there are a lot of folks running around these days talking about the importance of "customer experience." And some companies have really grasped this concept and deliver excellence time and again. Case in point: Amazon. They have never failed to delight me with their online customer experience (although they have completely hidden their 800 number). At any rate, a recent situation has inspired me to honor some of the true experts in bad customer experience.
The infamous "Yours is a Very Bad Hotel" story brought home to many just how outrageously bad some companies are at providing a good customer experience. Here are a few of the worst offenders:

Best Buy

aka Worst Buy.  I got a $150 gift card for Best Buy and I can not for the life of me seem to be able to use it. Of course, I started by trying to use it online. But you can't use a Best Buy giftcard on their website!
So I decided that I wanted to use it either for a Mini iPod or a low-profile air conditioner. After going to three stores in two states, I was:
1) Almost entirely unable to find sales help on the floor in either of the two different states that I tried (Yonkers, NY and Seekonk, MA) and in the rare case that I did, I was literally abandoned in order for this guy to escort an attractive female customer to the door with her purchase. I'm not kidding you.
2) Completely unable to find either item in stock.
3) Entirely unable to find out when they might be in stock.
Finally, in desperation I decided to call ahead to an NYC location and save myself the trip. But their expertise in bad customer experience extends to the phone, where I was put on hold and then disconnected.
Then I wrote them an email describing my troubles and sparing few adjectives. What was my response? Suzanne from Customer Service wrote, "Thank you for sharing your comments with Best Buy. Please don't hesitate tocontact us with additional questions or concerns." 

aka "Gilligan's Island". I warn everyone who suggests that we go there for something "quick" that "You realize that we're going to Gilligan's Island, don't you?" They inevitably respond with, "How do you mean?" And I say, "It was supposed to be a 3 hour tour and 5 seasons later they were still there."
And it's true, no task at Kinko's that involves intervention or "help" from their staff will EVER take the time that it should. And the time it takes it to complete at task at Stinko's seems to be an inverse proportion to reality everywhere else on the planet. Simple business cards? A week.  (They have to send it to headquarters somewhere in wilds of the fly over states for production.) 100 color copies? A month. ("The color copiers are broken all over The City.") Making a single copy? A year. ("It only takes a Kinko's card now and our card reader is broken.")

Nextel technology? Rock solid. Nextel Customer Service? Pronounce it carefully after me, "Puuuure eeeeevil!" Run by Beelzebub or maybe Baal. Really. These people lie to you and sign you up for contracts you don't agree to. Then they have the nerve to tell you that "Our records indicate you said, 'Yes' to our representative on the phone." The network coverage is great, the signal is great. But god forbid you decide they're too expensive and try to port your number somewhere else.

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