Good Customer Service Is Not Convenient

As part of my Christmas present from my very generous Mother-In- Law I received a bundle of coupons for babysitting all 3 kids AND dog!  Like many, it has been an eternity since myself and the Mrs. have spent a night away from home.  Now, fully vaccinated and comfort growing, we decided to cash in one of those coupons, but stay someplace close so we wouldn’t burn up too much valuable time traveling.

I went to the website of a hotel in town, booked one night, paid and set our countdown clock…

Enter life and our son’s lacrosse team signing up for a Friday night, under the lights, tournament on our big get away night.  As much as we want/need that night away, we could not let the little guy miss this opportunity.  We also just absolutely love watching those little bees out on the field buzzing around trying to score. I waited a couple days to make sure the tournament was truly happening and then went online to cancel our night away and thus experienced the topic of today’s post.

The reservation couldn’t be changed online, but only be cancelled with a zero-refund policy. I called the local hotel, got a real person who was very nice, placed me on hold, and then let me know that her system could not handle my request, but she would transfer me to Reservations and so she did.  The Reservation Department was busy and so after waiting on hold for 23 minutes, someone finally answered and told me that my reservation was made through a third party and I would have to contact them directly.  After arguing and explaining the reservation was made, literally, on the local hotel’s website, I hung up with another number to call and about zero patience left in the tank.

The number they gave me to call was no longer in operation, so I looked up another number and after sitting on hold for 43 minutes this time, was able to speak to someone who then had to call the local hotel to get approval to process our refund.  Head slap, please hand me a beer.

I am no stranger to this run around as it happens most every time I call my internet provider, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. No matter how many post-call surveys I participate in, very few companies in corporate America make accommodations for the fact that providing good customer service is not convenient.  Good customer service requires real people, employees who need to be paid, trained and appreciated.  Pure capitalists will stand firm on the belief that a company’s fiduciary duty is to its shareholders and thus maximizing profit at any cost to the end consumer or the environment is totally justifiable. I couldn’t disagree with this more, especially when I believe that helping customers/people at a time of need, or a time of change can’t be outsourced or automated.  When everything goes according to plan, clicking the box on the website, or texting “yes” works just fine, but when life happens and your future decisions are uncertain, you need a personal approach to guide you.

In the end and in theory I am all for automation. I can’t wait for a drone to deliver me pizza someday, but if saving three minutes on delivery speed is going to waste 30 minutes as I wait on hold to ask why I didn’t get pepperoni, count me out.

Happy Friday! Please stay healthy and be safe!