Why Customer Service is Terrible

Here is a question for all our readers: 

Why does customer service stink so badly these days? 

I mean, all you hear is how customer service, which is the one real way you can stand apart from your competition, is terrible. In a recent New York Times article, Chicago small business owner Jay Goltz discusses the three reasons he has come up with for the terrible state of customer service. He blames health insurance, crazy pricing and the lack of a real merchant class in this country. Here is what he has to say: 

Because of the high cost of health insurance, many companies have opted to hire a lot of part-time staff, which allows them to avoid having to offer benefits. This creates a problem: It is difficult enough to train full-time people. Having them there part-time and having a huge turnover makes it all the more difficult.  

Meanwhile, in the retail world, pricing has gone mad. It used to be that stores would have four sales a year to get rid of stale or seasonal merchandise and to promote business. These days, stores have “crazy once in a lifetime sales” every two weeks. When you have manic pricing, up one day, down the next, it wreaks havoc on customer service. When the sale is on, you don’t have enough staff. When the sale is off, the staff stands around and complains about the slow business.  

And then there’s the issue of who’s running the show. Where have all the merchants gone? Their kids are lawyers, hedge-fund managers, computer programmers, professors and a thousand other things. The people running the stores today come from all different backgrounds. Many of them did not work their way up from the sales floor or have generations of family history and training to prepare them for the job. Perhaps they are even over-educated. 

So, according to Goltz, poor customer service comes from companies avoiding high health insurance rates by hiring part-timers with high turnover rates, having too many sales, and being run by people who really don’t know what they are doing. It all makes sense, but what we want to know is whether this is your experience. 

I invite you to send in your comments and tell all of us what you think poor customer service stems from, and I will choose the best ones for a subsequent article.