These past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with customer service issues with two separate companies. While they are both very successful, very different brands, my experiences have been equally unpleasant. In my mind, as a customer, these events have essentially taken the “shine” off two otherwise “shiny” brands. It has also clearly brought to life how a brand’s behavior can affect customer loyalty.

My first customer service conundrum was with Comcast. I had to schedule an appointment to get a new HD box for the TV in my kitchen. It took me a couple of weeks to schedule the appointment. On the day of the appointment, after waiting almost the entire 4 hour window (from 8AM – 12N), the tech finally made it to my house – but was less than helpful in resolving my issue. He poked around my TV and cable connection, tracked snow all over my floor and used my bathroom before finally realizing that he’d brought the wrong cable box with him. The box he attempted to install was registered to another customer. He informed me that there was nothing he could do, told me to call customer service and left after 30 wasted minutes.

After he left, I called customer service. It took talking to three different people over 5 discrete calls before I was able to schedule another appointment a week later. Guess what! Unbelievably, my second experience was exactly the same. This new tech, after a few minutes of surveying the situation, announced that he had brought the wrong box and could not help me. I am still without working cable for my kitchen TV. I have now been told by Comcast that I need to go to one of their retail locations to pick up the appropriate cable box and install it myself. Needless to say, I am not very happy with them.

During the same timeframe, I have had a disappointing customer service experience with Best Buy’s Geek Squad. I bought an expensive washer and dryer set from them. The dryer has not been working as it should. I scheduled an appointment with a Geek Squad “agent”. This was confirmed for the morning 8AM – 12N timeframe. On the day of the appointment, at 9.55AM, I got a call from the tech informing me that they would be at my house between 3.30PM and 5.30PM. Obviously, I was frustrated by this. I could not stay at the house the entire day to get this service call done. I called Customer Service. There the answering agent, her supervisor and their manager all insisted that this reschedule was my responsibility, not theirs. After about 15 minutes of heated discussion, the manager told me that they would have the field office call and schedule another appointment. They called me 4 hours later and scheduled another appointment after two weeks. This time, the tech showed up during the appointed time window. Heard my dryer “squeal” and told me that I would have to schedule another appointment in two more weeks. Why, I asked! “Because I have to order some parts for this machine” he said. “These parts will be shipped to you during the next week and I will come and do the repair.” That was last weekend. I am now waiting for the parts to show up and then will start the whole process of scheduling an appointment again with a Geek Squad “agent”.

I’m sure you didn’t need to know the gory details of the entire story. However, it does bring to life the angst that brands are creating when they are unable to handle the experiential moments with their customers well.

Is this an acceptable approach to customer service? What does this do to a brand’s value? Does it affect purchase behavior? Should we accept this level of behavior and be silent?

I’d like to do something about this – start a movement! Brands need to be more conscious of how they treat their customers. They need to stand behind their promise. They need to keep their word.

Have you ever had an experience like this before? Namely with Comcast or Best Buy’s Geek Squad? If yes, I’d love to hear about it and share it with others.

These are two good brands with a lot of positive equity. It makes no sense for them to become tarnished because they can’t deliver a consistent experience across the value chain.

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