I have always thought as customer service as one of the most important virtues for any business, public or private. Why would people stand for being treated like a cow about to go to slaughter? But it seems that regular customer service is just deteriorating away from underneath us in almost every angle.
Take for example, Hilton Hotels; arguably to be perceived as one of the higher-end of hotel chains in the world. My experience over the past two months (over three separate stays) have put me in a position to not only refuse to stay at any of their hotels in the future, but also to warn other to do the same. Between my trip to Chicago for MAX (Palmer House Hilton), and my trip to Minneapolis, MN (for another conference), Hilton decided to give my room away (although it was prepaid), charge me twice for said rooms, damage my car, go into one of my rooms and trash my clothes, and forget to pick me up at the hotel, despite two calls to their front desk. After spending 29.5 hours on the phone with people in India, and people who didn’t speak English in America (customer service for the individual hotels), i finally was able to talk to somebody with power to compensate me for my experiences. The lady was more frightened that I would publish something inflammatory about the experience rather than correcting the wrongs, however, the most she was willing to get was a free night at one of their standard hotels. Experiences aside, I am still holding a $1,600 bill for damages to my car (which happened at their valet service) , which I doubt they will ever take care of.
But bad customer service doesn’t only extend to the Hotels of America. Oh, no. And don’t worry AT&T, I won’t bring you into this one (I’m sure I’ll have plenty of posts about the inept company that calls herself Ma-Bell). Customer service from my own IT staff is also seriously lacking. How many programmers are not given Power-User or Administrative privileges to their own PC? Yes, I realize that our IT staff has to tend to 1,200 users (1,100 of them can barely use a mouse), but some of us plainly need access to basic functions of our computer that the rest of the group doesn’t. For example, if I make a configuration change to ColdFusion or LiveCycle, normally this would simply require a restart of the application. But because the PC is so locked down, I have to reboot my entire PC to realize the changes. And because we have completely roaming profiles, it takes 20+ minutes to logoff. Creating AIR applications are out of the question, because they refuse to install the AIR runtime (and even if they did, updating the beta would take weeks). Their response to this? There is an offer to buy one of the machines they they are decommissioning (outdated), to allow me to do my work, but it won’t have access to the file servers, printers, servers, or a descent monitor. Worth the productivity loss of just being able to do my job 8 hours of the day? Maybe…
But it isn’t all bad (but damn close). One of our vendors, GEE! Communications (now owned by SPS) still tries their damndest to make our lives easier. Between making their actual system programmers available to us, and their sales person who has become personal friends with many of my department’s staff, they manage to pull it off. It might just be that we get special service because we are located so close to them, but they seem to pull it off 🙂
Oh! My computer finally finished rebooting. Time to do some work!