Friday, August 21, 2009

Customer service ... or lack of it

I am always amazed by how large companies easily and repeatedly drop the ball in customer service in very obvious ways! They spend huge efforts and money on trying to polish their image, then they ruin all that with stupid ways they behave with their customers!

I recently had such experiences with two companies, UPS and Showtime. On the first I will save your time and just say UPS sucks! They are willing to lose a customer in order not to admit their mistakes. They did lose me and now I avoid dealing with them even if they were the only available service. If I had time I would've ran a campaign against them!

More recently, it was Showtime. The kids saw Animal Planet at a hotel room in a recent trip, and they wanted to have the channel at home badly. Showtime has been trying to get me as a client for years. I am finally ready to be a client. I log on their website hoping I can sign up to their service online. That's not available. Fine, will call them. I call, I press the button that says I would like to be a new customer. This is the core of their business. This is the peak of their attempts for years to get me as a client. It is their lucky moment. A big red light should turn on at their call center and agents should be racing to pick up my call. Right. I am put on hold and their annoying message describing their lineup keeps repeating and repeating and no one picks up! So I hang up. No Animal Planet for the kids. They already forgot that they asked for it. I save a few hundred bucks a year, Showtime loses my business. Case closed.

This is just too hard to believe! It is a very simple equation but they don't get it. They pick up or I hang up. They invest millions in setting up their call centers, build their brand, go after clients, then when the client comes they don't pick up. How stupid can they be?

Now, I have a business, and I hope our clients don't think that our customer service sucks, and that we don't drop the ball frequently. But if you are a client of iHorizons and you are not happy with our customer service, please add a comment here and let me know. You will be doing me a favor and I would appreciate that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stephen Covey, live

I am at a seminar by Stephen Covey titled "Managing Change in the Face of Crisis". I have been reading Covey for more than 20 years, but this is my first time to attend Covey in person. This also happens to be Covey's first time in Qatar.

Like millions of people, I benefited from Covey and his thinking and philosophy influenced me in many ways. And I still highly respect Covey and believe that his books and teachings are very valuable, and it feels good to be with him in the same room. Nevertheless, I am not sure if he was coming up with anything new in the past many years. This is the case today. He is presenting a nice collection of ideas, but they are all in the Seven Habit and a couple of his later book.

To be honest it looked a little like show business with the workers on the stage banging and unrolling a banner that says "Coffee Break"! And the title for the seminar was apparently meant to indicate that there is something specific on how weather the current crisis and some of the lessons learned that can prevent repeating them. But so far, a couple of hours into the seminar, there is nothing of that. It is more on paradigm shift, industrial vs. information economies, leadership vs management, natural laws, values and principles, abundance thinking, etc.

A line he said today summarizes this: "nothing fails like success", and I feel this somewhat applies to to him.

I also noticed that his delivery style is not very engaging as well. But this doesn't come as a surprise since I heard a number of his audio books and seminars.

But don't get me wrong, for the younger generation who haven't read his works, and for those who started late in giving attention to these topics, today's seminar would be of tremendous benefit, even life changing to some, and that's more than worth.

I have to take off early, and based on the above, I don't think I will miss much. But for those who didn't read Covey, please do. You will learn a lot, and hopefully change a lot!