I thought I would revisit the theme of customer service today by sharing with you two incidents involving a business and the government that I experienced this week.
Late last month I decided to refinance my home equity loan so that I could come up with a down payment for a new/used car (which I ultimately bought this past Friday). So after sending in the requested paperwork (W-2's and paycheck stubs) the previous week, I decided to inquire about the status of it. It was already conditionally approved and all I wanted to know was either a closing date or what additional information was needed.
I called up TD Bank, which is where my loan is through, to find out the status. For the next three days, I got the following answers to my query:
1} It's not my department.
2} I'm sorry.
3} It's still being worked on.
4} I'll send an e-mail to the proper department and they will get back to you.
No matter who I spoke to, be it a worker bee or their supervisor (I tried the bank branch that our family has their accounts with, but that person got stonewalled as well), no one would give me an answer. As a matter of fact, the closest I got to an answer was a supervisor telling me that it was being worked on as we spoke about.
Eventually, after spending another four hours getting the run around and getting apologized to, I wound up yanking my application. But wait, it gets better. I called the next day to see if I could get the information that I had mailed in back.
I then proceeded to spend the next five minutes having a nasty argument with the customer service rep who was trying to tell me that it takes about three weeks to move from conditionally approved to approved (among other things). Two issues quickly emerged from this argument: one, she wasn't listening to what I was saying, which was that someone was already entering my info in the system; and two, she wasn't catching my increasing vitriolic tone. So I told her to shut up for a minute so that I could speak. She got offended by that comment (really?), so I escalated my anger and about thirty seconds later, dropped the proverbial F bomb and ended the conversation.
I'm sure at this point that I'll probably become a case history on how not to handle an irate customer. For those who do customer service and might be reading this, I offer this suggestion: give the person a solid answer to their question. Go that extra mile and give them what they want, even if it means bending the rules in order to do it.
There are only two government entities that I will bend over backwards and grovel for: Motor Vehicles and the IRS.
Since things have been quiet on the home front with my car/driver's license, let's concentrate with the IRS.
This past Friday (3/23) I went to the bank to get some money and when I had gotten my passbook back, I noticed an odd deposit posted. I inquired to the teller, who told me it was from the U.S. Treasury. I said, "That amount doesn't sound right." So I made a beeline back to the house in order to dig out my tax return and check what I had written down.
Turns out there was a $1550 discrepancy between what I had written down and what was given. Extremely worried that I did something really not right with my return, I called the IRS about it. After getting a computer generated explanation as to why, which was what I wrote down for a number for my daughter did not match up with their records, I decided to continue with my phone call and talk to a customer service rep to see how I might be able to fix the error and expedite the fixing of the error in whatever method they'd deem necessary.
So when I got put on hold, the friendly voice said, "Your estimated wait time is more than 15 minutes."
I said to myself, "No big thing."
Little did I know how much of a wait beyond those 15 minutes would await me.
Like times 3.
Yes, I was on hold for 45 minutes before I got to talk to a customer service rep about my particular issue. Now normally, I would of long ago gone absolutely nuclear if I had spent more than ten minutes on hold. However, since this was about three-quarters of my legitimate tax refund, I was more than willing to spend the entire evening on hold in order to jump through whatever hoop they wanted me to jump through.
Turns out that there wasn't that much of a hoop to jump through. I gave them the appropriate number, confirmed a few important details and after a grand total of 57 minutes and 7 seconds, I had the rest of my tax refund.
Which I'll see in about three to four weeks.
Oh, and out of that 57 minutes and 7 seconds, I was on hold for about 52 of those minutes.
And I will say with genuine sincerity that the person I'd talked to on the phone was extremely helpful and polite throughout the entire encounter.
So there you have it, two unique customer service experiences from the private and public sector. Who would've thought that one my better customer service experiences would come from an entity that developed a reputation of mediocre customer service?
Certainly not me.