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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Customer Service vanishes behind Computer Security

A company I have done business with for 30 years continues to add more layers of password security to their web site every year. Each time they do this they effectively lock out more and more actual customers.

Each customer reacts in different ways to the added inconvenience. Many customers simply go back to using the 800 telephone number. Since this is a very large organization this means very long wait times before reaching an actual human customer service representative. The same firm has added so many questions to their automated phone answering system that you must wonder how many humans still work for them. On the back end, this means additional phone and payroll costs for the venerable old firm.
Eastport Tug o' War 26832
Other customers attempt to communicate in writing with the company. This method typically fails in this day and age because customer service people are no longer trained to read and respond to written requests for customer service.

More and more customers must resort to driving across town and visiting the few remaining offices of the old company. This frustrates the company further because they have limited on-site customer service staff and this drives operating costs even higher.

One thing most firms cannot do is actually contact the customer directly. They have trained customers to suspect fraud when a customer is contacted directly by phone or email.

This leaves the customer with only one alternative. Take their business elsewhere.

I did this recently when I was unable to access my account, even with the help of Customer Support. They would not help me without my current password and my current password was apparently no longer "current." Personal information was of no use to this firm. I needed to know a new password that I simply did not know because I never created it. When the phone conversation evolved into, "I cannot help you without your current password" and "The only password I have is one you do not accept," I took the next logical step. I asked them to block all access to my existing accounts. They agreed and I ended the phone call.

I contacted another firm and they quickly and easily set-up a new account and allowed me to purchase the service I desired.

The next morning the old venerable firm sent me an email stating that I should call them on their 800 number (and wait for 30 minutes for them to pick-up the phone) as soon as possible regarding my account. Thanks to all the fraud emails circulating out there I was forced to consider this email to be one more phishing attempt.

If a company wants to do business in the information age they need to hire more real employees and train those employees how not to send customers racing to the competition. Every business should also understand that customer service means providing good service to new and existing customers, no matter how that customer chooses to contact them. If this means hiring more people to stay in business, then so be it. After all, future customers need to be working somewhere to be able to afford to buy goods and services from any business.

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