Customer Service, Dead of Alive?

Is customer service dead or alive? My career experience has been primarily in residential property management, where I have had extensive training in customer service. As a result, I have higher professional expectations for those whose job it is to deal with me as a consumer. In the past two weeks certain events lead me to believe that customer service is a dying concept for some companies.

In the beginning of February I started a new position as an office manager for a growing manufacturers representative group. My first task was to upgrade our phone service and purchase new phones to accommodate our current as well as future needs.

I made the first call to our local telephone service provider. After talking with a customer service representative for small businesses about our current number of lines, voice mail service, and potential employee growth, we decided it was necessary to add two more phone lines and upgrade our voice mail service. To my surprise, the installation schedule would require a two week wait, except for the voice mail, which would be installed the following Monday. With both appointment dates set, we ended our conversation.

Monday morning I arrived at the office and quickly realized that we had no dial tone. Using a cell phone, I called the telephone company and requested that they restore our phone service. By late morning we had phone service but no voice mail. So I called customer service again and talked to another representative who was completely unable to answer any questions or tell me when our voice mail would be available. It took more than two weeks for the telephone company to get our voice mail system totally functional.

The installation of our new lines seemed to go very smoothly. In fact, at this point I thought that our phone troubles were over. Then came several complaints from our dealers and manufacturers and I discovered that while installing our new phones lines they had turned off call forwarding. Thus, followed more calls to the telephone company, and a five day wait, our business phone service became functional.

Customer service at the local telephone company is dead. Their representatives give us the illusion that it is alive, but my experience is otherwise. They have a monopoly that puts Bill Gates\' Microsoft to shame. Having no choice in your service provider has brought about the death of service.

Thankfully, I can end this essay on a happy note. During a wonderful conversation with a customer service representative of a manufacturer of fax machines, my concept of service was resuscitated. Everyone needs a

Brother.