This is the first of my blog articles regarding the state of customer service. Customer service is what separates a good company from a bad one - At least in my opinion. I am writing about my experiences to evoke a dialogue with not only you, but the companies who may be failing in this area of their business. 


You can't fix what you don't own. That's my way of saying you can't correct a bad behavior unless you actually own the fact you behave in the way that's needing change. So the first thing I wonder about is all the times you're warned that the conversation may be recorded for training purposes. Obviously it's as effective as the dummy security camera. Good customer service can't be born from such a ploy. Obviously the customer service reps know they aren't being recorded so why would they care to improve? The ones who should be listening to correct those poor customer service experiences are just as bad as CSRs delivering a bad customer service experience. 


My vehicle was burglarized recently. They stole my computer backpack loaded with everything I use to do business with: 17" MacBook Pro, iPad, software installers, cables, dictation headset and more. I had to make several purchases from a wide range of companies and not everything I bought worked the way it was supposed it was. What happened as a result of my calling the respective customer service department prompted me to write this blog series. 


Nuance - Makers of Dragon Dictate


I wanted to replace my wired headset with a wireless one when I got my new copy of Dragon Dictate. I didn't want online chat but wanted to talk to a live agent. I called the number I found on the website and I had to leave voice mail. I tried more than once and left 2 messages. No one called back. I really wanted to talk to someone because I thought there was a better price to upgrade given I had the current software and if I explained my circumstances. 


A week later after no call and getting vm on the sales line, I opted in for the chat. Just moments into the chat as I began to explain they said I needed to speak to a sales rep. Such a revelation!  When I explained I had been trying to call and no one was calling back, they were apologetic and surprised. I guess they live under a rock and keep to themselves. 


They gave me a great price and I received it promptly. I anxiously paired the new Plantronics headset they claimed was the bomb for dictation to my iPhone to give Siri a run. After a few volleys with Siri there was a Bluetooth issue. There was a garbled type connection issue that exhibited this trait to another iPhone I had and my computer. Being a former apple certified consultant I do know a bit about troubleshooting. I in fact still practice technology consulting to this day. The point is I knew that the device was the issue. 



I called Nuance customer service. I got an offshore call center in the Philippines.  The heavily accented and annoying CSR began reading his script. I asked him to stop and actually listen. I quickly learn that listening is not a skill taught to these cyborg CSRs. I explained the issue and my background and did not want to spend 30 minutes having him run me through rudimentary troubleshooting steps for a product I just received and needed replacement.  Like a true Stepford robot he went back to reading his script. Aggravated I asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor was dumb as a stump and was as incapable as his line level CSR.  



38 minutes later I'm no where closer to getting my headset replaced. I made a comment like "we are outsourcing our American jobs to dolts like you guys?" and demanded to speak to a US representative. They refused!!  I asked again and they said they would provide me the RMA and replacement I sought.  An hour and twenty minutes was the length of my frustrated call to the Nuance buffoon center to get my DOA item replaced. 


So Nuance has pissed me off to the point that I won't buy from them going forward unless they bring customer service back to the continental US. Sure they paid less for the call so their stupid and precious shareholders would reap the short term benefits, but in the process they get a non-customer like me who is now writing blogs telling the world what a stupid decision that suit made - the one they gave at big bonus to fatten the share price on the short term. I hope the suit bought a nice yacht or another mansion with his undeserved bonus. 


But there's more. I thought I would try to talk to an executive at Nuance that may like to hear about my very negative experience. I called the numbers listed on their site.  But I never got a live person. In spite of my many voice mails explaining why I wanted to speak to a management or corporate exec, the phone never rang. I started to dial random extensions asking anyone to call me back. I left at least 7 voice mails in one day. A week later a man calls me. I find out he's in volume licensing and was someone who returns calls and was interested in my story. I asked if he could connect me with a high level exec and said he would try. That's the last time I spoke to someone. Trust me, it's last call to them. 


More to come. 


This is the tip of the iceberg. I will be posting many more customer service experiences under this category on the website. I will also share any experiences submitted to me by my readers. 


Is it just tech companies that seem to have a customer service issues?


My personal experiences are leaning this way but I don't have enough data yet to say so.  Readers and contributors will help no doubt. I'll end this blog article with my experience with Crate and Barrel


Crate & Barrel - The epitome of superb customer service 


I recently placed and order for 2 place settings of dinnerware before they discontinued the line. As I unpacked the order a plate was chipped and one was broken and they over shipped a bowl. 


I called Crate & Barrel's customer service. I reached a kind and energetic woman in the states in 30 seconds. I asked if I could send a photo of the damage to her. She emphatically said no. She told me replacements would arrive the next day. They did. I spent a total of 5 minutes from the moment I made the call until I hung up. I'm a fan and customer for life. 


I share both stories with many I meet. Do the math. What story would you want your company to be associated with? 




Please comment on experiences you have had for this blog category. I Want to share your story so that these corporations the Supreme Court says are people can hear what a sucky job they're doing. Their CEO's line their pockets with big bonuses for creating such pathetic systems to fatten profits while they put Americans out of work.