is customer service worse than 10-20 years ago?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by furcalchick, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. furcalchick macrumors 68020


    Dec 19, 2006
    South Florida
    sometimes, i feel that customer service on average has gone down big time the past few years or so. more often than in the past, we are referred to as consumers than customers by companies. for some reason, i think using consumer infers that we are more or less slaves to companies instead of a valued asset, giving them more or less a free pass to potentially have more questionable pratices. and i'm not talking about one or two companies or whatever, i'm talking about on average, do you think companies treat their customers worse than maybe a generation ago?

    i personally think it has gone down, i've seen more complaints by people than ever, but then again, i'm just a 20 something. i would like to hear especially from the older set, is it true that customer service is down, and are we looked at as robots that need their products to live more than customers that have a choice?
  2. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    Things are better and worse.

    I believe that policies and procedures have been put into place to offer a more even treatment of all customers than used to happen. Having more national companies running retail stores and restaurants seems to offer up better ideas for dealing with people.

    On the other hand, everyone seems angrier. (I continue to say those who grew up only using the microwave oven and getting fast food have little patience.) Customers demand more, even though they've not done anything to deserve extras and customer service people seem to think that their wage isn't worth the hassle.

    I believe that, within reason (not $199.99 marked $19.99), people are entitled to prices marked on items, regardless of what's in the computer and that advertised specials should be available exactly as shown, unless an item of equal or better quality is substituted. Such mistakes are made and the customer shouldn't have to pay for them.

    I'm surprised to see store workers rolling their eyes and making faces at customers. These kinds of things happened way back when, but usually they waited until the customers were out of sight. If you can't even be artificially nice, you have no business working with the public.

    There are good people working in these jobs but the stores hardly ever recognise them for the great jobs that they do. In fact, I hear it's more likely that everyone will be treated the same.

    Having worked in retail in the late 1970s, I found it sometimes difficult to take the customer attitude, but if you treated them fairly, they went away satisfied and shopped the store again. I find that most stores today don't have any personal, friendly relationship with their customers, especially in Florid...I won't do that...and that's because few people care. They just want it NOW!
  3. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
  4. srf4real macrumors 68040


    Jul 25, 2006
    paradise beach FL
    I'm 40, so I have at least 20 years as a consumer to discern with... I agree totally with the decline in customer service. When I was younger, companies for the most part seemed to have the corporate attitude that when all else fails, the customer is always right. The benefits of that were products that always worked or were replaced with new ones, money back on products that were not satisfactory of my expectations, sometimes without reciept more than 90 days after puchase! The drawbacks were crooks working the system to scam and steal, and obnoxious customers that got satisfaction from being rude to the salesperson and manager after alreaady getting their way, and of course, LOWER PROFIT MARGINS!

    Today when I walk into a store, I basically feel like a wad of cash/credit cards with a warm body attatched. I expect to have trouble exchanging or returning something, even if I purchased the five year store warranty. I expect for the item I bought to go on sale next week and to not be able to recoup the extra money I needlessly spent. On top of that, I expect for the store manager to stand his/her ground when disputing my claim that this item is defective and to go home with the same piece of crap I marched in there hoping to replace.

    But, hey, at least the companies look good on paper for Wall Street.:mad:
  5. jaydub macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    We studied this phenomenon in a Services Marketing class I had last semester. In a nutshell, studies show that people prefer great customer service, even if it's fake and contrived. As long as people see the illusion of great customer service, they're content.

    In my opinion, I think that people's expectations of customer service is what has changed. People now have instant access to have their complaints heard, whereas 20 years ago they probably didn't have that instant gratification. They had to write letters and wait for a resolution, so people did it less often than people do now. Now people can just click a button, and fire off a scathing email which is probably very different from what an average person would say in real life.

    I know that in my own experience, working in customer service, people themselves have changed. There is no longer any expectations to do anything on their own. I've read some complaints on this forum where the consumers no longer take any responsibility for their own products, they just complain about the company and refuse to buy anything else from them. I don't remember it being that way 10-20 years ago.
  6. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    I had the same fear recently when I returned a pair of jeans with a material defect. I was afraid the Wal-Mart CS rep would say I had damaged them myself, and was astounded when the she looked at the tag, then at the defect, grimaced, tossed it behind her and said, "Go pick out another pair if you can find a good one but a lot of these got poor QC for some reason, so I'll give you a credit or refund or however you want to deal with it." I found a good pair after all and went home pleased and reminding myself to take an open mind to each situation. I try not to paste someone else's yesterday over my own today but it's a challenge when there is so much black PR out there all the time now about EVERY vendor of EVERYTHING.
  7. method525 macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2007
    Interesting topic considering I'm a CSR. I don't know if there is a real explanation if CS has declined Maybe part of it is that national companies run so many business and they have hard and fast rules where as in the past smaller companies were willing to bend their rules for a customer. In the cell phone business, it is all about hitting your numbers if you are selling the phones or if you are are on the phone. This causes some problem in the CS department because we rush are customers either to purchase the phone or get off our phone. There have been many times where reps will tell a customer something if even they don't know the answer to get the off their line. Of course with sales people they will bend the truth or outright lie to get the sale. Those problems just snowball leading to overall customer dissatisfaction with us. That's just on the company side. Customers sometime make it hard on themselves by not being proactive and making sure everything is correct on their bills or accounts. They let the problem go on for months at a time and then expect everything to be fixed with a magical wand. And then their is the entitlement mentality that exists in some customers, which doesn't help the situation at all.
  8. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    Was it always the case that some companies, doctors, and government institutions just NEVER return voicemails and e-mails? That's my biggest pet peeve.
  9. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    Well, I work in retail, and we refer to our customers as customers.

    Now, I took ALL of the bad experiences I had with customer service, rolled them all together, and be the complete opposite of it.
  10. Rube macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Why don't you reverse your question. Are customers the same as they used to be or are they more demanding, demeaning, rude, and expectant of what they consider to be "good service"?

    One customer can ruin your day. Eventually employees grow to care less and less for helping and it turns into only a job. Not only do customers make it that way but the employers do as well.

    The jobs pay very little. There is little hope for advancement. There are little if any bonuses. You must read how the CEO just sold 20 million dollars in stock and walk past a salesman's Jaguar on the way to the bus. His/her car is 2 years of your salary. Not only that but the salesman just got you chewed out because you didn't call his client because you are so overworked.

    They work harder than most others do and no one cares about them. Should they really care about you?
  11. Jschultz macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Good call. I didn't work retail 20 years ago, but I have the fortune of working with people at Circuit City (my place of employment) who WERE here 15 years ago. They say that overall, customers have gotten 10x ruder, and overall, just plain ornery. It's horrible, but I've come to loathe the general public who walks into my store.
  12. Feverish Flux macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007
    Judging by the way people act in public (and specifically, in stores) these days, customers have gotten worse, not necessarily customer service.

    I was in our local Target one day and a woman was YELLING at the return clerk because they wouldn't let her return an automatic cat litter pan because it had cat crap on it (and by the woman's own admission, it worked just fine, thanks, she just didn't want it).

    People are just common nowadays.

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