A few years ago I was speaking at a conference and committed a cardinal sin: I used a company as an example of poor customer service, and that company, an electric utility, was in the audience. I tried to mea culpa my way out of it, and apologized profusely to the company’s support manager at the conference. A couple of weeks later I received a call at my office from the head of support for the utility company, who informed me they had made major investments to their support operations, including 100% call recording, and he had listened to every one of my phone interactions over the last couple of years and I had zero reason to think they gave poor support.
Worst Practice #1: Never tell a customer their feelings about poor treatment are unjustified. You are basically calling them a liar, and putting the customer immediately on the defensive.
The folly of all of this is that the account I had had so many problems with was a rental property I owned at the time, and the electric account wasn’t even in my name. Using call recording as a bully club to argue with customers is ridiculous, as you can’t possibly tie me personally to account problems my name and phone number aren’t associated with.
Fast forward a few years. A few weeks ago, Northern California received a record breaking storm, the remnants of a typhoon from Asia. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I received 10 inches of rain in one day. We had sustained winds at 40mph, with gusts up to 70mph. My power was out for 4 days, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my encounters with that same utility company left me so frustrated, that weeks later I am still angry. This blog post is my attempt at catharsis. (more…)