Why Customer Service Matters

I’ve had marketing on the brain of late as BishounenCon, Yaoi North, and RainbowCon all loom near like the trifecta of gay convention doom. My day job, aside from being a bad-ass code monkey, deals with social media and support chat. That’s part of the fun of working at a start-up. There’s only so many people to do so many jobs. Not to brag, but we’ve got awesome customer service. We have the kind of customer service that customers compliment us on.

The thing is, good customer service isn’t hard. You need to do three things:

  1. Acknowledge the user’s problem/question.
  2. Gather the details necessary to diagnose the problem/question.
  3. Propose a resolution.

You don’t actually have to solve the issue then and there, you just have to acknowledge it and show that you’re working toward a solution. When dealing with conventions, a lot of the time the problem is usually “I want to know more about X” and the resolution is “Let me check with the person who does X and get back to you.” This sort of basic customer service is really easy, all it takes is a little empathy.

So, with that framing in mind, let me tell you about why I’m no longer a customer at KeyBank.

I had a checking and savings account with a local New York bank which was recently bought out by KeyBank. I loved my original bank. The site I usually went to was right at the end of my street and even though it didn’t have a lot of the premium features like a drive-up ATM, I still always went there because it was a nice place and the employees, every single time I went there, were pleasant to deal with.

Because there was already a KeyBank a block away from my bank, they closed mine and shipped the employees off elsewhere. The KeyBank did have a drive-up ATM so it had been a while after the switchover before I actually went into the branch. I went in to deposit a check and left with the resolve that I’m never doing business there again.

The first thing that hit me about the bank was the appearance. It smelled. The office was in drab reddish brown and black. The furniture looked like it’d been bought used after an office building closed sometime in the 60s. It felt like I was walking into a troll’s cave. This was the complete opposite of the bright and sunny bank I was used to just down the street.

Whatever. It’s just looks, right? I just needed to deposit my check. So I go to the counter and fill out the deposit slip and head to the end of the empty waiting area. There was one man finishing up with a teller but otherwise, the six or so people behind the desk were without customers and not in the middle of other tasks. I wait at the end of the empty line.

Silence.

It takes me a minute or two before one of the tellers will even make eye contact. The other customer has left. I approach the man that seems like he’s willing to handle my business.

Silence.

I slide over my check, the deposit slip, and my driver’s license.

Silence.

The guy’s got tattoos on his hands. I totally would if I could get away with it, so I’m checking out his art when I realize part of it has been sharpied over. Literally black sharpie on his hand covering part of one tattoo. Okay. He runs the deposit without saying a word and slides back a receipt with my current account balance on it.

Silence.

I actually had a question about depositing coins since my deceased father-in-law had hoarded pennies and we wanted to deposit them. Should they be rolled or loose? The guy stares at me before gruffly responding, using as few words as possible. I leave after that and during my entire time in the building, my question and his one sentence answer had been the only words exchanged. It felt like I was being a nuisance, like I was bothering them by daring to come into the building during business hours and making them do work. Did I walk in on a robbery in progress that they were trying to hide? Had I interrupted a drug deal? There were no balloons or decorations of any kind so I definitely wasn’t crashing someone’s party.

Remember those three things that I mentioned were needed for good customer service? I got none of those. I was barely acknowledged, never asked if I needed anything or even a simple “How can I help you today?” and while I did get a resolution—my check did get depositied—it left me feeling unsatisfied. I have another check sitting on my desk that needs deposited. It’s been sitting there for at least a month. I don’t want to go to the bank and it’s a low enough amount that I don’t need to deposit it any time soon, so there’s no urgency there. I’m actually waiting until I get another, larger check in so I can go to the bank just a block further down the street and start a new account there.

This is why customer service matters. If I’d gotten the barest hi, bye, and what do you need, I would have stuck around. After all, it’s so much easier to just leave things as they are and not make a change. Instead, I’m going out of my way to create a new account, change my automatic payments and direct deposit. I’m rearranging my whole financial life and it all boils down to the fact that no one spoke to me.

So, if you’re dealing with an unhappy—or even a happy—customer, talk to them. It’s a lot easier than you think.

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